Inuit Juggling Game

Sorosilutoo juggling sketch

The drawing at the right is of an Inuit playing with juggling balls. It is a sketch by Sorosilutoo and is titled Ilukitatuk. This Inuit artist is from Cape Dorset on Baffin Island (Government of Canada: Ministry of Indian & Northern Affairs, 1975, #QS-8050-000-BB-A1).

On Holman Island, juggling games are known as Illukisaaq or Illukitaq. In this game, the intent is to keep at least three objects in the air as long as possible. Normally, the game begins with two objects, a third is added, and then perhaps four or more. A skillful player may try to juggle all objects with only one hand. At times a song accompanies the juggling. Two or more jugglers may compete with one another.

During the summer months, in the outdoors during the day, a competing juggler may use small stones or bones for practice purposes. In the winter, special juggling balls are used for this game. The following photograph illustrates three handmade juggling balls purchased by the Museum from an Inuit Cooperative in 1979. The balls are made from Caribou hide, are flat spheres in shape, hand stitched, and each is about 8cm in diameter. The stuffing is unknown.

caribou hide juggling balls

Last update June 20, 2010