Northern Images

Kudlik

WHAT IS AN INUIT KUDLIK AND HOW DO TODAY'S INUIT ARTIST'S CELEBRATE IT'S BEAUTY?

 

The Kudlik is a crescent-shaped oil lamp carved from stone. It is fuelled by the oil from blubber or seal. The wick is made from moss or Arctic Cotton - a grass that produces silky while plumes that resemble cotton balls.

The lamp was traditionally used by the Inuit to light and heat igloos and tents, melt snow for water, dry clothing and cook food. Today, the kudlik is primarily used as a ceremonial symbol of renewal and in Inuit Art.  

When the lamp is to be lit, it is filled with blubber in liquid or solid form and a wick is laid along its straight edge. The wick is moistened with oil then lit, the size of the flame can be regulated with a lamp trimmer or "tarkut".

The kudlik was essential for heat and light in a snow house during the long winter nights. A piece of soapstone was hollowed in the centre and the blubber and wick were then placed in the hollowed out stone. Any peaks of flame or irregularity in the wick would cause smoking. A smoking lamp would soot up the interior of the igloo, restrict light and induce melting.

Today's Inuit Artists help to celebrate the beauty and cultural connection to the kudlik.




"Kudlik" - by Kania Atogoyuk, Iqaluit, Nunavut

Inuit Art-Kudlik-Soapstone Carving-Inuit Traditional Lamp-Arctic Canadian History-Canadian Arctic Art