Tupilak-A Bone Carving Figure

The Greenland Tupilak

When you visit Greenland, you will soon encounter the term 'tupilak' to describe a small figure.

To many people it is not entirely clear what exactly it is. Is the small bone figure an amulet? Is it good or evil? Might it be spiritual in nature? The answer is a bit of everything—tupilaks are bone figures from Greenland that depict a spiritual creature created by humans.

Historically, they were used to cast spells on the enemies of the tupilak maker whereas today, of course, they serve mostly as an artistic expression. Unfortunately for the maker, tupilaks could also be turned against him if his intended victim's magical abilities trumped his.

This form of Russian roulette probably struck fear into the hearts of many settlers and has historically endowed the tupilak with a certain duality, which is also at the centre of many traditional Greenlandic tales.