Myths and Nature in Greenland
“When the concept of human dominion over nature is questioned, the door opens for a multiplicity of relational bonds with fellow creatures and the world”
NOMAD LAND is an artistic and inclusive multimedia project that seeks to explore and revitalize Greenlandic traditional wisdom and myths from the coast. The project will relate stories with universal values on human connection to nature through the production of films, audio, an online photo exhibition and community.
Social change through storytelling and the inclusion of voices
We believe in a world championed by the open exchange of knowledge (enabling people to explore and creatively participate in a global dialogues with their ingenuity, creativity and love). The creative response that occurs when participating in such processes empowers everyone involved to experience the world more fully and express what they believe is important. It encourages people to take an active role in the world and challenge the destructive ideologies that surround us.
The creative response is our answer to the question “What kind of world do we want to live in?” and can be used as a tool for change, inclusion and influence. Cultural activism is a much-needed action that rebels creatively against what harms the most vulnerable, sapiens included.
Although there is much research to do into finding what are the creatures or stories that the series will cover, here there is a list of some on which we are interested. In collaboration with the museum and local storytellers, we will give depth to these figures, so take the descriptions that follow, as a mere introduction to the fable.
AAJUMAAQ - Narrator
The sleeved one
“AAJUMAAQ is known and feared across all of Greenland; it has served as a helper spirit to some of the greatest angakkut such as Naaja, Maratsi… and others. AAJUMAAQ not only acts as a helper spirit, but also as a creature of vengeance when an angakkoq uses it to attack his enemies. It often accompanies an angakkoq on his spirit journey to the other world as its strength makes it a powerful weapon against evil spirits or enemies wanting to kill the angakkuq on his travels. But first the angakkuq needs to master or ally himself with the helper spirit.”(0)
The giant worm
“AASSIK is a giant worm that appears in many different stories across Greenland. It is often found near the dogs’ hitching posts where it lives in a hole underground and tries to eat the puppies”(1)
The one that never gets blunt
“IKKIILLINEQANNGEQQISSAARTOQ is a creature with an incredibly hard sharp saw or a long pointy knife blade on its back. To defend itself it will jump up with its back to its attacker and cut them.”(2)
AMAROQ is a giant wolf that haunts the edge of the ice cap and the icecap itself. It likes to make its den on plains with cotton grass. Here it feeds on reindeer and it is so big that it can carry a whole reindeer in its mouth.(3)
The bear of the sea
IMMAP NANUA is a huge polar bear. It is not to be confused with NAPPAASILAT or SERMILISSUAQ because this bear is so big that it can wade trough fjords and only gets wet up to its waist.”(4)
The spirit bear
NAPPAASILAT is a big polar bear with a bluish fur and a neck that is almost as wide as its body. It is most often found in inland lakes.
… It can have several functions, but acts primarily as a kind of portal for an apprentice angakkuq so that he can become a fully-fledged angakkuq.”(5)
The giant kayak man, the seas, the waters are his domain and contemplation
QAJARIAQ can be seriously bloodthirsty and aggressive and has a habit of tying body parts from anyone he kills to his qajaq. He can cause bad weather by blowing into a small pipe which brings about a storm.”(6)
The lord of the mountains
QAQQAT NAALAGAAT is the biggest and steepest of all the mountains and can, with the help of a skilled angakkuq, feed a starving settlement.”(7)
“MALIINA is a beautiful young woman who wonders across the sky during the day. She only has one breast and holds a torch made from moss with which she light up the world.”(8)
“KILIFFAK is a big, long haired creature with six, and sometimes ten – legs. It is bigger than a polar bear and has a long body due to its many legs. “(9)
“QIVITTUT are known and found across all of Greenland, in older as well as in recent times. They are created when someone leaves their settlement in shame, in anger or in grief. This person will walk far across the mountains or the icecap in order to sever contact with all other people, and live either in solitude or together with other QIVITTUT”(10)
Mist, Moon, Northern Lights, The Sea, Storms and Wind
Some of Greenland’s myths and legends seem often harsh but all of them take as their starting point the individual human being’s ability to survive in wild, demanding and violent natural surroundings. Such environment favoured groups of people living close together, semi isolated from other local communities. This gave birth to a big array of variations in the stories around common elements all communities shared.
“Tattoos convey meaning, identity and sometimes the belief of them working to repel or attract the spirits, dependent on how they were made and why.” (11)