06 November 2020
Ghost Stories in Greenland (Series I)
Ghost Stories in Greenland I
1/2: ‘Aajumaaq – The Sleeved One’
Denomination: DKK 1.00
Artist: Maria Bach Kreutzmann
2/2: ‘Eqqillit – The Dog People’
Denomination: DKK 44.50
Artist: Christian Fleischer Rex
Date of issue: 6th November 2020
10 stamps per sheet
Exterior dimensions: 40.00 x 28.80 mm
Format: G – horizontal
Typography: Lowe-Martin Group
Printing method: Offset
In Greenland, Christianity co-exists alongside a belief in the spirit world; an important cultural relic of the original Inuit belief system. One way this is manifested is in the many myths and legends that have, from time
to time, been reproduced on our previous stamps, dating back to the 1950s. In his time, legendary Jens Rosing, who has designed significantly more Greenlandic stamps than any other artist, stated:
“The star of paganism eventually faded, but it will never be completely extinguished as long as the northern lights continue their heavenly dance, as long as storms rage and huge swells hammer against the bedrock, as long as the ice packs drift in wind and current under the blazing torch of the sun.”
The Greenlandic spirit world is populated by a colourful cast of dangerous, fantastical beings. Polar explorer Knud Rasmussen described them in his legendary series of books ‘Inuit Folk Tales’. Since then, many other authors have also dealt with this part of Greenland’s cultural heritage.
One of the most recent and extremely successful testimonies about Greenland’s mythical creatures, spirits and animals is a work called ‘Bestiarium Groenlandica’. The book was edited by Maria Bach Kreutzmann and was published in 2018 by Milik Publishing. It contains illustrations of Greenlandic legends and myths by eight contemporary Greenlandic and Nordic artists, including Maria Bach Kreutzmann.
POST Greenland is now adopting a new theme and focusing on ‘Ghost Stories in Greenland’. We are starting this series with two stamps with designs created by Maria Bach Kreutzmann and Christian Fleischer Rex. Both designs are taken from ‘Bestiarium Groenlandica’, as are the descriptions of the ghosts.
‘Aajumaaq – The Sleeved One’
Aajumaaq (or the Sleeved One) is known and feared throughout Greenland. It has served as a helpful spirit to some of the greatest shamans. Its body is almost that of a human, but with long, slender arms that are black from the elbows down. Each of its hands has only three fingers and each foot only three toes. Its head is described as a furless dog head and sometimes as a skeletal dog head with large stabbing eyes. It hovers over the earth, and everything it touches begins to rot quickly, including people. Its voice is that of a whispering spectre, but it can also be loud when it shrieks its arrival with a cry of “Let rot whatever I touch!”
There are many different tales in which Aajumaaq not only acts as a helping spirit but also as a creature of vengeance sent by a shaman to attack his enemies.
This is Maria Bach Kreutzmann’s first ever stamp design. It is a fine achievement for the young artist, who was born and raised in Nuuk.
‘Eqqillit– The Dog People’
Eqqillit are half dog, half human and live inland in large packs. Sometimes they dwell in ordinary houses. Other times they prefer caves under large rocks close to the ice caps or in the ice itself. They are extremely fast-moving and can easily outpace a human on the run. Their sense of smell is like that of a dog, so one has to be cautious when moving about.
Eqqillit can be extremely aggressive and hostile and think nothing of making war with people along the coast. They are experts in the use of weapons, specialising in bows, but are also skilled at making knives and ‘ulut’, the traditional knives used by Greenlandic women. They also like to steal food and equipment. They do fear humans’ sled dogs, however, so sled dogs can be used to keep them at a distance. Eqqillit are especially fond of seal brains.
The stamp is the sixth design by Christian Fleischer Rex since his first design in 2011. Christian Fleischer Rex is an animator and comic book author who has worked in the animation and advertising industry since 2000, normally working from his own company Deluxus Studio in Nuuk.