Origin of Inuit Art Part I

Art is a barometer.

Through out human existence, the cultural artifacts left behind, have painted a picture of the history a culture which could easily have been lost if not for these treasures.

Inuit Art expresses the stories of Inuit life, past and present.

Inuit Art derives from the spirit of the Inuit people and their unique interpretation of life, which is deeply influenced by the harsh climate of the Arctic.

In past centuries, each day would be a struggle to survive.

Inuit Art is also a celebration of their ancestors and their extraordinary skills and resourcefulness which have allowed the modern Inuit to have existed for over 1000 years!

How did Inuit carvings begin?

The Canadian North is a vast region with only a handful of sparsely settled communities located throughout (basically the size of Australia with only 40,000 people). 

As such, it is only natural for the people in each community to have their own versions and interpretations of where Inuit art began and why.

From my time living and working in the Arctic, I have come to understand from most Inuit people that carvings were made primarily for the purpose of children's toys.

Nothing more.

Like everything the Inuit make, these toys were minimalist whose purpose was to comfort and amuse the children. 


How did the Europeans meet the Inuit?
In the 1830's, the Hudson Bay company was establishing the fur trade in the Canadian Far North.

The European traders were fascinated with these toy carvings (to the amusement of the Inuit)

The fur traders would trade day-to-day items for these toy artifacts.

It was a good trade for both sides.