Inuits, relaxing and ripping

The description of the Milan knitting as a Mandala reminded me of Tupilak‘s which Victor Papanek talks about in the Green Imperative, a very good book. The Coast Inuit’s of Greenland carve and dispose of Tupilak‘s.

Tupilak, which means ‘harmful ghost’ in most Canadian Inuit languages and dialects, describes small ivory carvings. They fit the hand easily like all true Inuit carvings, and, lack a base, can’t stand ‘properly’. Their function was originally to absorb all the bad and violent feelings and emotions of the carver. Once completed and beautifully finished, the carver would toss the tupilak into the ocean or a brook. This would externalise and get ride of rage and hostilities, and leave the carver and his family cleansed of agression and hatred.” p234, The Green Imperative, 1995

[Later the Danish government and Greenland tourist boards touted the tupilak as sculpture for collection, so Inuit agrression was turned into a commodity for tourists.]

The concept of the tupilak has also effected the idea of pure knitting for relaxation for me, as it has brought further context to the ripping of the yarn once the piece has been knit from the wiping away of the sand in the Sand Mandala’s. The Inuit’s do not have a word for art or design nor to make or to create the nearest Inuit term is ‘to work with’. In Inuit carving they are more concerned with the relationship between the carver and the material than in an end product. I am interested in what happens to the thing as both part of the process that is a circle  not a start, middle and end. And also that in consumption does the object need to be consumed instead of being deconstructed and reconstructed so that gaining does not have to require a using up. This means that a gain in say relaxation can be achieved without an increase in what has been consumed. By looking at the object as having no purpose other then the act of making it as the aim allows room to consider how to carry out the act in a sustainable manner without seeing this as something that must be given a purpose or use. To be able to design beneficial  processes that don’t require an end use and also do not require a consumption is a more effective way of sustaining than the view that more ‘sustainable’ practise is dual use. [I apologise for the use of Kathryn|English, a rare dialect of the English language] 

This is the completed ‘kits’. I gave some out at the event and I also visited Eco Annie’s shop. Unfortunately she wasn’t there but I left her one at the shop.

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2 comments
  1. Elizabeth said:

    Kat, this ‘pure relaxation’ idea is so true – often I just knit a few rows for the relaxation value – I cast on say 30-50 stitches and just knit….often just to rip them out again the next day. Its not ‘knitting a thing’ its just keeping my hands busy and letting my mind be free – sometimes I wonder if I’d do it if i were say a smoker… If I were a smoker I’d lean out of the window and think and smoke. Instead I sit and knit to unwind. When there’s no ‘need’ to make something and you give yourself permission to just ‘knit’ it can give you a sense of freedom – especially if you know you’re going to rip ot out again later. Strangely I always do stocking stitch precisely because I don’t want to have to think.

    Like your blog! xxx

  2. katflap said:

    That’s interesting that you do that, because when I’ve posed the question using the video I made knitters weren’t to enthusiastic about the idea.

    Thank you!

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