How do I know if an Inuit carving is authentic?

This is a question many collectors ask, especially ones who are new to the Inuit art scene.

In most case, the best way to answer this question is …  “Look for the Igloo tag.”




The Government of Canada registered the symbol of the Igloo
as a trademark to identify Inuit artwork as authentic
and to protect Inuit artists and buyers.

This tag can only be attached to original Inuit
sculptures and art from northern Canada.

Artwork marketed by Northern Images bears this tag.

It’s sometimes confusing, particularly for new collectors, to determine what is genuine Inuit art and what is not. Some stores and gift shops sell souvenir “carvings” made of plastic, ceramic or stone, that have been mass-produced. These are NOT authentic Inuit art pieces from Canada's Arctic.

How can you tell the difference?

  • If there are several pieces that look EXACTLY alike . . .
  • If a piece has a cute, conventional look similar to a ceramic figurine . . .
  • If a piece has marks made from the moulding process . . .
  • If a piece is priced below $50 . . .
- they are not likely original works of Inuit art.

Check the base of the sculpture for a signature. Most carvers sign and date their work, either in Inuktitut syllabics or Roman orthography. Instead of a signature, older sculptures may have a number preceded by an ‘E’ or a ‘W’. These are Disc Numbers, a discarded form of identification the Canadian government imposed on Inuit individuals in the past.

What does the Igloo Tag tell people?

The Nuna Tag supplies specific, individual details about each work of Nunavut art or craft.

1. The Government of Nunavut’s guarantee that the piece was hand made by a Nunavut artist.

2. The name of the artist who created the piece, written by the artist or retailer. It may appear in Inuktitut syllabics — the language of Nunavut Inuit.

3. The name of the community where the artist lives. Many communities have changed their official names from English to Inuktitut. The map in this brochure uses the current official names of the communities.

4. The year the work of art or craft was created.

5. A description of the work by subject and materials: for example, “Drum dancer – stone and antler.”

The information on the Nuna Tag enhances the value of the Nunavut arts and crafts you purchase by guaranteeing their provenance. Keep your Nuna Tags in a safe place for easy reference and proof of origin.

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