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The Amazing Adventures of Larry and Mark  part 13

Art of the Inuit - Inuksuk

 

Close by our cabin, there is a small pile of stones, no more than two feet high.  All the rocks

were put on this arctic shore by nature, but man has been making piles of these stones

for thousands of years.

 

 

 

The Inuktitut word for a construction of a pile of stones is "inuksuk," but the common usage

 - the "language of the street" - is "inukshuk." It is pronounced "ee-nook-sook." The plural is "inuksuit."  They have had many purposes over the millennia, besides just native art. 

Very common are the inuksuit which are vaguely man-shaped: two legs, two arms, a head.

The word inuksuk means “something which acts for or performs the function of a person.”

 

 

At times, the inuksuk appears to be just the result of someone spending a little

"arts and crafts" time. 

 

Many inuksuit are like this cairn on the upper slopes of Mount Washington in New Hampshire  (left). 

They are left as a message.   An inuksuk is a traditional stone monument used by the Inuit

for navigation. The inuksuk or the cairn in the far south of New Hampshire are a guide

to travelers to help find the right direction under difficult weather conditions.   

 

 

 The inuksuk has many important uses in survival.  They are used to mark a cache of food,

as well as protect it from many hungry animals.  They can be used as message centers for

others to follow. Hunters will use them to mark a particular spot, and travelers will use a

pointed rock on top to tell someone who follows that the path has changed from a

pre-planned direction.  A hunter whose harpoon went down with a seal in shallow water

may mark the spot with several inuksuit, in order to come back later to retrieve his weapon.

 

 

 This was the nicest inuksuk we found.  It is truly man-shaped and it has clearly been

here a while.  From this position, it looks like it could be ten or twenty feet high.  Actually,

I got down low for this photograph to accent against the sky.

 

 Unless Mark is 25 feet tall, this inuksuk is more like five feet tall.

 

 

 

 This inuksuk looks like the work of many people, who have added their own expression to

a pre-existing base.  Inuksuit should never be touched. It is said that if one destroys an

inuksuk, his or her life will be shortened.

 

There are countless collections of rocks worn by time and weather, with a patina of lichens

and moss, which are believed to have great spiritual power.  There are many sacred sites

throughout the arctic.  This picture comes from Inuksuit-Silent Messengers of the Arctic

by Norman Hallendy

 

 This solid - looking inuksuk was built as a memorial to the Japanese tourists who perished

while paddling kayaks around the arctic coast.  The wind upset their kayaks, and they

were gone in minutes.

 

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