Qulliq / Naniq
The Importance of the Qulliq / Naniq
The Qulliq or Naniq - seal oil lamp - has been used in the Arctic for many generations. It was used as a heat source, to light the qargi (sod homes), to cook food, and the soot that was accumulated through cooking with the Naniq was used to make ink for kakiniit (traditional tattoos). It was an essential component of the home. TODAY, the naniq is often used in ceremony and prayer. It has become a tool for healing and revitalization.
The light of the flame is traditionally fueled with seal oil, today you can also use vegetable oil, coconut oil, and olive oil if your seal oil supply is limited. The wick was traditionally made with arctic cotton, moss, or cotton wood fluff. Today you can use store bought cotton balls and shredded paper towel.
Tips to Care for your Kammak
1. Store in cool dark places. The freezer is a good storage area. Since the materials are sensitive to heat, avoid storing them in places that are 60 degrees F and above for long periods of time.
2. Do not get them wet. If you do get them wet then store them in the freezer, that way they will not warp and shrink as they dry. Wear them like normal until they are dried completely.
3. To clean, use a damp cloth to wipe the area affected. Do not use soap.
4. They are not made for one left side and one right side, they can be worn on either side. To prolong the life of the soles, it is good practice to switch the sides you wear them after each use.
Kunaq, aka Marjorie Tahbone is from Sitnasuak (Nome) Alaska. She is Iñupiaq and Kiowa. She believes that learning her language and culture is essential to a happy healthy life. She enjoys learning new skills as well as teaching them to others who want to learn.
Right now, she is developing as an artist and is not taking orders. She hopes to improve her skills by allowing space and time to use her creativity to make beautiful products.