This is my version of a tupilak. I have seen many photos of tupilaks in books but I was inspired to make one after visiting Lorne Balshine in Vancouver and seeing his incredible collection of Greenland tupilaks.
The tupilak idea came to me in the form of a mischievous human spirit. There is always someone being blamed for eating the last piece of fish and often it is the blamed on the dog, cat or some other creature or being — so why not blame the tupilak? So here is my tupilak to be blamed for stealing the last piece of dried fish!
My tupilak has a human face with a dog-like nose and ears. His starving fur-covered body is crouching with a curved spine and protruding ribs. All the tupilaks that I have seen seem to have this emaciated form. This tupilak is a mix of creatures, a human arm and bear cub paw, a bear cub limb and human hand holding the dried fish, a human foot and a walrus flipper with a weasel tail. I think despite being ugly that he is still kind of cute!
It might be a coincidence as the names sound the same but I am so excited as I am about to leave for the Torngat Mountains National Park in northern Labrador and I have heard that some tupilaks were called tornaqs which is a guardian spirit in the form of a human bear.
Billy was born on July 7, 1978, in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. In his early years he travelled eastern Canada residing and schooling in Ottawa, Yarmouth and Halifax in Nova Scotia, then at the age of thirteen returned to live in Goose Bay. He now lives in North West River in Labrador and enjoys fishing and hunting on the land with his family.
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