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 IGLOO TAG GUARANTEES THAT YOUR INUIT CRAFT IS AUTHENTIC!

 

IT CERTIFIES THE ARTWORK HAS BEEN
HAND MADE BY CANADIAN ABORIGINAL ARTISTS

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.



Comment on this post (16 comments)

  • jaap van Waning says...

    Omschrijving; Crafts Rhoda Tukalak;
    Artist; Puvurnituk; 2017;
    Community; A99-30817 Nassak.

    Wie is de maker van mijn muts?
    Dank u voor uw reactie, Jaap van Waning

    November 11, 2019

  • PEG SCHMIDT says...

    Circa 1978, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I was gifted a 7.5 inch walrus carving. It has the igloo tag (sticker) and also a
    “CO-OP” tag with the numbers 5K41 and 3252 hand written on the underside. Would this be an authentic Inuit soapstone carving? What would be the value of this piece?
    Peg Schmidt/09/22/2019

    November 11, 2019

  • charles riley says...

    good morning, we recently acquired a small soapstone carving through an estate sale. the style is Inuit, and i have been searching images and have nor yet seen a similar . it has walrus, seal and human head/faces in different positions. could you suggest a site or reference i could use to learn more about the piece and artist if possible. there is no legible marking on the bottom that i can discern. thank you, Charles Riley

    November 11, 2019

  • Claudette Gatien says...

    I need info:
    I have a “Jade – abstract” inuit sculpture bought before 1979, value 1500$ (at the time).
    Artist “j.e.m.”, engraved: 1549 jem.
    Remarks:"Last one-of-a-kind " date of purchase: 07 my 1979, signed: G.A. Arnaud.
    It is 91/2″ × 6″ × 2″ and wight +/- 3 kg.
    Thank you for your attention.
    C. Gatien

    November 11, 2019

  • Jane says...

    I have an inuit figurine with Eskimo tag . #99019077. Bear appears to pretend he is innocent But he is sitting on the head of an Eskimo . He’s scratching his head as if saying who me??it is green . Who would I contact to sell?

    November 11, 2019

  • Barb Amsden says...

    Hi I have loved Inuit carvings for as long as I can remember. My mother had a few small pieces and one my husband was asked in private what I wanted as a going-away gift from a job, he said Inuit carving. Over time I bought some more ones. I have the tags you describe for only one or two. Can I get copies of tags or equivalents for the ones I didn’t know I should keep if I have the carved name or a number on the bottom?

    November 11, 2019

  • Gary Long says...

    Hi , Very interesting information.
    I am in possession of a lovely carving of a gull with a fish piece in its beak.

    Marked on the base with igloo sticker and sticker with symbols ( converted ]
    Pu vi li tu mi u
    ga tu hi ju
    I mi gu tu
    Also scratched in LuKasi
    Ken
    and the numerals. 1 – 64207. EA. Could you please give information ?

    November 11, 2019

  • Gary Long says...

    Hi , Very interesting information.
    I am in possession of a lovely carving of a gull with a fish piece in its beak.

    Marked on the base with igloo sticker and sticker with symbols ( converted ]
    Pu vi li tu mi u
    ga tu hi ju
    I mi gu tu
    Also scratched in LuKasi
    Ken
    and the numerals. 1 – 64207. EA. Could you please give information ?

    November 11, 2019

  • Anon says...

    The trick is that many people, including myself, have bought sculptures directly from the artist. In these cases, there is no nuna tag, so lack of one does not mean that a piece is inauthentic.

    November 11, 2019

  • Debbie says...

    I have a carving with the number 8219-1006 on the bottom. Is this an authentic carving

    November 11, 2019

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