People, Shamans, and SpiritsEnlarge image

People, Shamans, and Spirits, c. 1978

Marion Tuu'luq
Canadian (Inuit), 1910 - 2002
felt, embroidery floss, and thread on duffle
158 x 152 cm maximum irregular
Gift of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, 1989
National Gallery of Canada (no. 36652)

Stories, set in myth time, are an integral part of the Inuit concept of the land. Within this spiritual landscape arises the oral tradition encapsulating the forces and relationships that infuse their religious thought. In myth time, everything had a spirit and it was the role of the shaman to negotiate between the worlds of human and spirit. Few overtly shamanic images are found in Tuu'luq's work, but one striking exception is "People, Shamans, and Spirits". This, she explained, is about "shamans getting together to do shamans' work." The people in the first row have special powers that enable them to communicate with the world of spirits to help humans procure food. In the second row, the shamans are shown with their helping spirits perched on their heads to guide them in their search for caribou. The horned figures in the bottom row are the shamans carrying caribou heads.




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