Frozen Museum

Peter's Seal

Peter 01

About ivory carving

About My Seal

My name is Peter Nowyook ᐱᑕ ᓇᐅᔪᖅ. I am from Pangnirtung, which is north-east of Iqaluit on Cumberland Sound. First, I am happy to be here. The experience I have is in metal work jewellery, and I am thinking of new things, to make a new mix of metal and ivory.

My stone cylinder seal shows different tools that we use for cleaning and eating the seal. For example, when you catch a seal, you need an uluk to clean the seal skin. An uluk is a special knife, which is good for scraping, and the shape of the handle is good because your arm will be less tired. When you finish cleaning the sealskin, you have to hang it on a drying frame. We use sealskin for making kamik ᑲᒥᒃ, the sealskin fur boots that are waterproof, and to make a sealskin coat, atiigit ᐊᑏᒋᑦ, and we don’t throw away the meat of the seal. We eat it, cooked or raw.

In my jewellery, I use walrus tusk or narwhal tusk to carve designs about how we use the seal. There is a special bone inside the seal that holds a deep meaning for me, it is called kutina ᑯᑎᓇ. We used to go out hunting with my family, and every time we had a meal outside, the cooked seal was shared with everyone, but this piece of seal meat from this particular bone was reserved for the women to eat. That is why I carve women’s jewellery which I design as uluk earrings and as earrings in the shape of this special seal bone.

[Peter talks about his ivory carving in his video, and the last photo in his gallery shows the uluk and seal bone earrings that he carved; the pair of earrings on the right are designed in the shape of the special seal bone to which Peter refers.]

When I go hunting, we don’t use electricity; we don’t bring a generator. We have to use camp fuel for light, naphtha fuel. We usually sleep in a tent. We go on the land sometimes for weeks. For example, if I don’t have a job to do, I usually take two weeks.

If someone catches a narwhal, the hunter will sell the tusk, or if you are related to the hunter, he will give it to you for free. My uncle – Geolo – is a special hunter because of his skill, and every time when he catches a walrus, he always gives me a whole tusk because he knows I am a carver. Or you can buy a tusk from a hunter.

When I finish this program, I hope I will make new metal and ivory designs. I hope I get a job! But I will keep working on this no matter what.

Peter's Seal