Inuit Tattoos in Greenland

Inuit Tattoos in Greenland

Verified Local

Greenlanders are a part of the Inuit culture. "Inuit" means "The people" and covers a huge area of the Arctic. Inhabiting In Alaska, in the North Slope, and on the Little Diomede Island, through most of northern Canada, in the territories of Nunavut, Nunavik, Quebec, Northwest territories, Nunatsiavut, Nunatukavut, and all the way to Greenland.  We, the Greenlandic Inuits are descendants of ancient indigenous migrations from Canada.

I was working on a cruise ship through the Northwest passage to Greenland and visited some villages in Nunavut, Canada. It was so amazing to be so far from home, and still look so much like the people living there and made me feel just like I was at home. I could understand them when they spoke their Inuit language which was Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun, and I even met someone who looked so much like my mother.   

We have so many cultural things in common with these other Inuits, like the subject of the day, the Inuit tattoos. These traditional tattooing on faces, arms, and hands go way back, and it was the eldest woman in the settlement who would be the tattoo artist because she was the most experienced and careful seamstress. 

The traditional tattooing stopped for appr. 100 years, from when the colonization began, but nowadays we start to see it again. We are becoming more proud of our identities and want to show it by wearing clothing made by a local, jewelry, decorations, traditional tattoos, etc.

The Tattoos can be made in two ways, and have several meanings. On the videos below you can get more information about these and much more, from the tattoo artists themselves. The first video is from Greenland while the other is from Nunavut. 


Inuit Tattoos in Greenland:


The young woman who got her forehead tattooed in the video is one of my friends Pituaq Maria Kleist. She is for sure one of the people I know who are very proud of our culture and has even traveled to Alaska and the Northwest territory to do lectures of how she (we) do sawing etc. She has also taken an education where she learned how to make the traditional clothing from the bottom. 

I visited her in her wonderful house with one of the best sea views in Sisimiut! I didn´t sit down for a while studying her amazing work which was around the entire house. Everything from dried sealskin hanging on the walls, lots of decoration, to a costume placed in a glass closet. I was so fascinated! Her hands are like machines and she was showing me the work she was on at the time, a pair of children sealskin cloves to her brother's kids. 


Inuit Tattoos in Greenland

Inuit tattoos in Canada:


The elder women and her grandchild from the video above were at the Ulukhaktok airport when I arrived in Nunavut to embark the cruise ship going through Northwest passage to Greenland. I asked them in Greenlandic if I could take their photo, and they gladly answered yes in Inuinnaqtun. We understood each other and had a nice conversation thereafter. 


Inuit Tattoos in Greenland