Sanâk and Ilukkusik are the link between Inuit past and present.
‘Qaujimajatuqangit’, meaning traditional knowledge, is passed from generation to generation through both the spoken word, and by teaching the skills to create beautiful handmade tools and objects. Whether it’s paintings, carvings, jewelry or even traditional clothing, the distinct influence of Inuit culture is unmistakable. Art has become an ideal way to showcase and preserve their synergistic relationship with the land and wildlife of the Arctic.
While there has never been a specific word in Inuktitut for art, the word ‘sanâk’ means ‘made by hand’. Traditional works were predominantly toys, tools and clothing until the mid-20th century when artists from the South began to share knowledge of contemporary techniques. The commercial market has seen an explosion of mediums from simple bone, antler or ivory pieces to stone, jade, beads, fur and the increasingly popular paper and canvas prints.
The creation and sale of art is one of the many ways that Nunavummiut have adapted to the modern world, while still preserving their heritage and traditions. Many artisans in Nunavut make their living creating stunning pieces of art, which are often sold to visiting travelers, art collectors and buyers abroad.
Sanâk means, ‘made by hand’ in Inuktitut, and Ilukkusik means, ‘culture’.