Tupilak is a story- and colourbook about the Greenlandic tupilak and inspired by the collection og tupilak figurines at Nuuk Art Museum.
It is told by Stine Lundberg Hansen and illustrated by Maria Bach Kreutzmann, who also is the author behind the book “Bestiarium Groenlandica”, in a collaboration between Nuuk Art Museum and Milik Publishing.
The publication is supported by Den Grønlandske Fond and Grønlands Selvstyres Kulturmidler.
The Tupilak as a figure is a grotesque and is constantly moving between the wild and dangerous and the silly and comic. The expression of the Tupilaks in wood, bone, stone and ivory has developed through the interest from the outside and the imagination and narrative of the Tupilak cutters.
Originally, the Tupilak was an evil spirit, which was nourished and sent after the enemy, made of earthly remains from various dead animals, and corpses and the like. The spirit appeared in many different compositions. The Tupilak could emerged walking, creeping, crawling or swimming.
When the Europeans came to Greenland, they showed interest in the Tupilaks; they wanted to see and hear about them. Since the spirit was not visible, they were cut as pictures into driftwoods, bone or ivory. Over time, those carvings became desirable souvenirs to first the whaling ships and later on for the expedition ships.