Sunday, March 1, 2009

Qajaq 1.8 The Historians: H C Petersen in Greenland

H. C. Petersen is a native Greenlander, born in 1929 or 1925 depending on your source, and is currently living in Denmark. I have not been able to contact him for a personal interview, so I am writing solely from information provided in his publications. I have also been hindered in gathering photographic evidence of Mr. Petersen's activities by the dearth of such info available via internet, so I am including some photos from a third party which reveal current practice  and conditions in north Greenland, specifically the Thule or Qaanaat region, see here
While serving as the first principal of the folk high school in Sisimuuit ( the Knud Rasmussen High School) Mr. Petersen was able to contact and speak with many of the practicing hunters and qajaq builders still active at that time and preserve their knowledge. It is my understanding that he initiated kayak building courses at the high school. He also penned several volumes collecting and preserving kayak building techniques, culture, lore and kayaking skills. These include Skinboats of Greenland,which deals with kayak and umiak and for which he constructed a umiak, Instruction in Kayak Building, an overview of the building process,  and Quaannamik Pinnguaatit, published only in Greenlandic, a book about kayak games, rope exercises and other customs designed to hone kayaking skills. This book is currently being translated into English and Danish. H. C. travelled throughout Greenland researching these volumes, and spent time in Denmark researching museum collections. His work is a highly valued contribution to the knowledge of skinboats in Greenland, specifically and of indigenous peoples and their heritage in general. Martin Nissan of Qajaq Kobenhavn  reports the Mr. Petersen has been quite gratified to see the revival of interest in traditional Greenlandic kayaking engendered by the Qaannat Kattuffiat, and it's affiliates in the US and Denmark. Avail yourself of his writing, his knowledge.

1 comment:

Schwonke A.B. said...

very interesting post!

greetings from south Brazil