Qulliq, National Geographic Explorer, Nunavut

2015 Aug 23

Eva Aariak prepares the qulliq for lighting

Eva Aariak: “I would like to light this lamp in blessing of our journey together.” This is a qulliq, the traditional Inuit oil lamp. This one is made from an aluminum frying pan and belongs to Eva’s daughter.

These are Eva’s hands as she prepares to light the lamp on board the National Geographic Explorer.

Eva is a Inuktitut language expert, a former premier of Nunavut, and a special guest on board.

She and I gathered the fluff from Arctic willow today to make the lamp wick. The best oil is narwhal or beluga, but vegetable oil from the galley will work just fine too. (Eva: “Didn’t I say our people are adaptable?”) “I’m going to light the qulliq. It has a special light. If not for the qulliq, I wouldn’t be here. None of our people would be here. The qulliq warmed our house, cooked our food, melted ice, and provided light in winter. It was everything in our society”

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