DAVIDIALUK ALASUA AMITTU (1910-1976) m., PUVIRNITUQ (POVUNGNITUK)
Northern Lights*, c. 1974
stone, 6 x 7.25 x 2.5 in (15.2 x 18.4 x 6.3 cm)
signed, “ᑎᕕᑎ ᐊᒥᑐ”.
Estimate: $6,000 — $9,000
Collection of Peter Murdoch, Montreal, purchased from the artist c. 1974;
By descent to the Estate of Lucille Drouin Murdoch.
Exhibited and Published
Thomas Owen Eisomon et al, Stories in Stone (FCNQ and Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1988) cat. 7.
Davidialuk is an artist who has been justly celebrated for his obsession in depicting dramatic scenes from stories and legends in his sculptures and prints. In his "Foreword" to the commemorative publication Davidialuk 1977, Ian Lindsay referred to Davidialuk as "…one of the last myth-makers" . The artist carved several depictions of this story; here is a quick summary of the details:
One night, three companions went outside and one of them started whistling. The Northern Lights began to roar and whip up a violent wind, but ignoring the warnings of his friends, the young man kept whistling. The Aurora swooped down, decapitated him, and played football with his head. Since then, no one whistles outdoors at night .
* "Davidialuk has inscribed an unrelated legend in syllabics on the bottom of the carving, probably because, working on several pieces at the same time, he got them mixed up. Mr. Murdoch, who received the carving from the artist himself, was told that it did indeed describe the Northern Lights Legend." [Stories in Stone, p. 34] For the curious, the inscription reads: "ᐅᓂ ᑲᑐᐊ ᑲᐅᔭᔪ ᐃᓕᐊᕈ ᑐᔪᓕ ᓯᓂ ᐸᑐ / ᓄᓚ ᔪᕕᓂ ᐃᓚᒥ ᓯᑯᑎᕆᑲᑐ". (A story about Kautjajuk who was an orphan and slept on the porch and lying down in the house.)
1. Marybelle Myers ed., Davidialuk 1977 (La Fédération des Coopératives du Nouveau-Québec, 1977), unpaginated.
2. Ingo Hessel, Inuit Art: An Introduction (1998), p. 83.
References: For other examples of the "Northern Lights" theme by Davidialuk see Ingo Hessel, Inuit Art: An Introduction (1998), fig. 61. For more detailed information on Inuit beliefs regarding the Aurora Borealis (known as Aqsarniit in Inuktitut) see John MacDonald, The Arctic Sky: Inuit Astronomy, Star Lore, and Legend (Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1998), 146-157.