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Understanding human--non-human relationships - Terto Ngiviu & Cunera Buijs

Part of:
4:15 PM, Friday 4 Oct 2019 (30 minutes)
In this presentation Terto Ngiviu will present some of her research-results among the Inugguit. There are human-like spirits and animal-like spirits in the landscape where you live or travel. Shamans (angakkoq) and hunters develop a special relationship with a class of spirits called Toornat (-nat: plural, naq- singular). There is also a Toornaarsuk (a kind of super-toornaq), which may be either the most desired one to have or the most frightening to encounter. The Inugguit, even nowadays, are afraid of being close to the places that are said to be of Toornaarsuk. What are these spirits and how is the communication between humans and non-humans? How can this relationship been understood?

The majority of the great museums of the world have built large collections of magical-religious artefacts, related to healing and religious practice, which is often a tense topic. Arctic peoples are concerned for transgressions of the sacred and for codes of secrecy. For outsiders it is difficult to get a grip on what should stay hidden and what would be permissible for public eyes. Can museums be of any use in these discussions?

Cunera Buijs will present some of the material culture from the Iivi in East Greenland connected to human – non human relationships. A recently made shamans coat is explored, from fish-skin made by an Nanai artist of Southeast Siberia. It is a shelter, a house for the spirits. What do these spirits nowadays mean, how are relationships maintained and how can they been understood?

Terto and Cunera are working together to learn more about these topics.

National Museum of Wolrd Cultures
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