Qupirruit: Insects and Worms in Inuit Traditions

Frédéric Laugrand and Jarich Oosten

Abstract

Although small beings such as the qupirruit (insects and worms) appear in many different contexts in Inuit culture, they have not received much attention from scholars. In this paper we examine the symbolism associated with these small animals. We show that their small size makes them suitable to operate on the level of the tarniq, a miniature image of a being. We discuss how insects often connect different scales and easily transform into other beings. We first deal with the perceptions of insects as they take shape in narratives and practices, and their roles in the manufacture and use of amulets. Then we move to a more specific analysis of the distinctive features of the various qupirruit.

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