Five Inuit Building an Igloo
Date of Issue
September 13, 1979
Series Time Span
Perforation or Dimension
Based on a sculpture by Abraham Niaqu Irqu Designed by Reinhard Derreth
Abraham Niaqu Irqu, "Five Eskimos Building an Igloo"
Thirty years ago, most Inuit pursued what to southerners seemed an exotic life. Today, the northern peoples have adopted everything from T.V. to the alarm clock. The Inuit east of the Mackenzie River Delta generally used to dwell in tents during the summer. A tent consisted of hides stretched over a frame of bones or driftwood. In winter, people moved into igloos. The average igloo was about three metres wide and two metres high. It occasionally boasted a window of ice. A low platform covered by furs served as both bed and chair, keeping the inhabitants away from the cold air on the floor. These accommodations were quick and inexpensive to build, strong and, once the seal oil lamp was lit, fairly warm. The inside temperature approached the melting point even if it was minus 50oC outside. On the other hand, people cooped up in such spartan quarters in the depth of winter became especially susceptible to "cabin fever". Worse still, if erected on unstable ice, igloos could split apart and flood. In spring they dripped slush and water. In winter they gradually became colder as they iced up. To build one, a person needed snow hard enough to carve into blocks but soft enough to provide insulation and to let the blocks fuse together. Any other snow, whether too hard, too soft, too powdery, or too granular, was useless. No wonder the Inuit invented approximately thirty terms for different varieties of snow. The Inuit Shelter/Community stamps were designed by Reinhard Derreth of Vancouver and feature works of art by Inuit artists. The soapstone sculpture "Five Eskimos Building an Igloo" is by Abraham of Povungnituk. This sculpture is from the collection of the Canadian Guild of Crafts in Montreal.
Canada. Post Office Department. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1979.
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