Inuit Target Games

Sorosilutoo target game sketch

The drawing at the left is of two Inuit playing the game in a snow house. It is a sketch by Sorosilutoo and is titled Nuglugartuq. This Inuit artist is from Cape Dorset on Baffin Island (Government of Canada: Ministry of Indian & Northern Affairs, 1975, #QS-8050-000-BB-A1).

Primarily used as a gambling game, it is played by two or more men during the long winters. It can sometimes be physically dangerous to the hands, so often heavy mitts are worn while playing!

Emerak target game sketch

The detail of the stone cut at the right is by the Holman Island artist Emerak. This cut was made in 1970, and illustrates a number of men playing the game which in Holman is called Nullugaut. The original is black on white, approximately 50cm high x 75cm long.

Target game illustration

The closeness of the players to the target and to each other explains somewhat how physical injury could occur. As the target spins, players "stab" at the target in turn - one right after another! The detailed line drawing at the right titled Nugluktaq, illustrates the game. (F.H. Eger, Eskimo Inuit Games, Vancouver: X-Press, 3rd Edition, Page 63, ISBN: 0-919015-07-7.)

Equipment for the target game

On the right is a photograph of the game equipment. The set was purchased in 1978 through a dealer who acquired it for the Museum at an Inuit Cooperative in Northern Canada. The "target" bone is 12.4cm long x 1.5cm wide. There is a hole .4cm in diameter carved through the center and at each end. Pieces of sinew are tied through each end hole. Each of the 3 "spears" have wooden shafts, approximately 35cm long. A sharpened piece of bone (about 8cm long) is tied to the end of each shaft with sinew, making each "spear" approximately 40cm long. Using the sinews at each end, the "target" bone is suspended from the top of the hut or snow house, and anchored at the bottom. As it spins - players try to jab a spear in the center hole. No "rules" were included with the equipment, but field sources indicate that the "rules" vary from group to group!.

Last update June 20, 2010