Dancing Owl

by Palaya Qiatsuq
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Surrounded by a stark landscape, the Inuit draw inspiration from their intimate relationship with the indigenous animals of the Canadian Arctic. The work often reflects the enduring theme of transformation, represented regularly in the personification of dancing animals, such as this dancing owl.

Serpentinite stone with white marble eye inlay
24cm x 23cm x 8cm

Palaya Qiatsuq learned to carve in the traditional way, by watching his father. His first two pieces, carved at age 12, were a bird and a bear. However, it was only as a 17-year-old that he started carving seriously. He now supports his family through carving. He enjoys carving and has been doing it for some 20 years.  Although Palaya views himself above all as an artist, he is also “a traditionalist with a mission.” He believes that if Inuit culture is to survive, the young people must be taught about the past, and he attempts to keep the traditional stories alive through his work. He especially likes the shaman transformation stories he learned as a child from his grandfather Kiakshuk. Transformations and shamanism are among his favourite themes. He hopes that young people will see carvings and understand more about the hard life of their ancestors: how they were completely dependent on the land and wildlife, which sometimes meant starvation.