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Culture & History

The following books, tapes and other references listed below represent only a few popular resources. In addition to these references there are many historical texts as well, that are rich in information and await your discovery. To view additional references and selected reading material, please visit the Qajaq USA bibliography.

Qajaq USA does not receive compensation for the resources displayed below. This information is provided solely as a resource to the traditional paddling community.

Eskimo Life by Fridtjof Nansen

Instruction in Kayak Building Cover

Replica (facsimile copy) of 1893 edition by Longmans, Green, and Co., London. This is an enchanting book with beautiful illustrations and vivid writing. Colorful accounts of the dangers and skills required for sealing via kayak. Includes a wealth of information regarding kayaking equipment and culture in post-contact Greenland. Available from Elibron.  An online version of Eskimo Life is now available courtesy of Google.

Sacred Hunt: A Portrait of the Relationship Between Seals and Inuit by David Pelly.

Skinboats of Greenland Cover

In this book David Pelly richly describes the importance of the seal hunt, beginning with the respect for seals underlying the hunt. This respect is reflected in the myths, legends, rituals, and traditions of the Inuit, which include stories about hunters transforming themselves into seals and the practice of offering a killed seal water to drink. Details from Amazon.

The Wedding of Palo (Palos Brudefaerd), a video by Knud Rasmussen, 1935.

Making Skin on Frame Boats Cover

This fictionalized documentary was filmed with Ammassilik (East Greenland) natives and records Greenlandic life in the 1930's. Kayaking legend Manasse Mathaeussen is reported to have performed some of the rough-water kayaking stunt work. In addition to a wealth of cultural information, and scenes of kayaks and umiaks, there is enough kayaking footage, including close-up scenes of a partial sliding stroke, to keep Greenland-style kayakers very interested. Subtitles in English. Details from Amazon.

Culture Greenland

A portal to Greenland's culture on the internet. The aim of Culture Greenland is to maintain a large list of web sites with topics on Greenland's culture. Also of interest is the National Image Database of Greenland.  Search on "kajak" for a number of old kayak images. Another feature, currently under construction, is the National Sound Database of Greenland.

Greenland National Museum & Archives

This museum, located in Nuuk, Greenland is the central institution for research and documentation of the Greenland cultural history. It is also the central archival institution for public archives and offices. The museum holds a large collection of Greenlandic kayaks, but as yet, there is not a 'web tour' of the exhibition.

Baidarka List Archives

Discussion on every aspect of qajaq building. Searchable archive and Cultural Information.  Excellent Books and Reference section. Also information on Steam Bending.

Kayak Frame Illustration in Eskimo Life