A tupilaq (tupilak, tupilait, or ᑐᐱᓚᒃ) was an avenging monster fabricated by a shaman by using various objects such as animal parts (bone, skin, hair, sinew, etc.). The creature was given life by ritualistic chants. It was then placed into the sea to seek and destroy a specific enemy.
The use of a tupilaq was risky, however, because if it was sent to destroy someone who had greater magical powers than the one who had formed it, it could be sent back to kill its maker instead, although the maker of tupilaq could escape by public confession of her or his own deed.
Today, tupilaqs of many different shapes and sizes are carved from various materials such as narwhal and walrus tusk, wood and caribou antler. They are an important part of Greenlandic Inuit art and are highly prized as collectibles.
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