Inlägg

Valen tittade på mig – Grönland

Kajak in Sweden

Valen dök upp och tittade på mig under kajaken

Hör om späckhuggarmötet på Grönland. Om att hantera livet i naturen och att klara sig själv mitt i universum. Och bästa knepet för att få varma fingrar.

Berättat under en kajaktur på Ljusnan när jag färdades med husbilen genom Härjedalen. 

Hör berättelsen  


Stor som ett urtidsdjur reser hon sig ur klippblock och is – inslandsisen. Med ett muller kraftigare än tordön, släpper hon sitt innanmäte i havet – ännu ett isberg i fjorden – jordens svalka. 

Vi paddlade och spejade – allt levde – hav, himmel och is. En morgon då fjorden höjde och sänkte sig som en jättelik lunga efter nattens orkan, gled våra kajaker fram bland ytterskärens drivis. Vi paddlade in mellan två höga isberg där luften svalnade.

Ljudet av paddeln ekade mellan de två branta isväggarna. En ring vidgade sig på ytan framför kajaken, blev dubbel och sprack som en bubbla. Mitt hjärta slog fortare och fortare. Ur havet reste sig en gråskimrande kropp likt en vågbölja som följde kajaken.

– En val!

Tanken på den tunna vattenytan och den stora kroppen som simmade omkring mig, gjorde mig andlös.

Valen sjönk men kom kort därefter upp på andra sidan, välte kroppen mot solen och försvann.

– Valen hade sökt sig upp ur djupen för att se vem som plaskade på hans himmel.

Valen i Tasilaq fjord

Då kände jag mig som människorna där alltid måste ha känt sig inför naturkrafterna. Jag var mindre än allting runtomkring mig men varken viktig eller oviktig, bara en del av alltihop. En människa som måste skapa min stund på jorden men ändå fri att ingå i livets rytm.

Det som sker det sker när man färdas genom livet på ett klot i ett hav av stjärnor.

Grunden till de gamla myterna och berättelserna om mod och styrka kunde för mig inte åskådliggöras på ett klarare sätt.

Jag fascinerades av hur naturen präglat människorna och den kultur de skapat kring de arktiska livsvillkoren.

Naturkrafterna gör sig ständigt påminda och tillåter människan att bara vara. .. att bara vara med.

– Silarsuaq kisimi naalaagavoq – Naturen är vår härskare, som en jägare sa då stormen äntligen bedarrat.

Swedish spring, Sveg, Härjedalen
Storytelling from a kajak

Under nittotalet vistades jag på Grönland en stor del av mitt liv. Under elva expeditionslika resor färdades jag längs med kusterna och levde med jägare och hårdrockare, hiphopare och forskare i ytterbygderna.

Denna berättelse finns i sagoboken jag skrev om Kuitse – Pojken som blev stark som en isbjörn. Läs mer av mina Grönlandsberättelser här. 

TV 4 – 1994 ; jag berättar om Grönland 


Sveg, Härjedalen, swedish winter

Här är hela visan från inslaget ovan


Kajak in Sweden
Malin Skinnar video creator, storyteller and visual artist

Words were magic – Greenland

Inuit Woman, Ikateq Greenland, 1993, Photo Malin Skinnar

Sagas in Greenland

Malin Skinnar has lived  in Greenland for a long time. Inspired by the myths of Greenland, she went on tour with her storytelling exhibition.

A Journey in the Arctic border regions” –  includes her illustrations, photos and stories that are inspired by tales and myth. 

Published in Scandinavian Public Library Quarterly 2/94

Children in Sermiligaaq, 1993, Greenland

Kalaallit Nunaat – The land of people

Graphic Art, Malin Skinnar

I went out over the crust of the snow and was gripped by a desire to pay homage to nature and all the happiness the sea creatures brought people.

Suddenly the mountain rose up against the stars and was about to topple over me. Words lay in the pit of my stomach and I was filled with a strange feeling.

It was as if my own form was not enough, as if words were too small and all the beautiful so endlessly large.

All of a sudden a song came from my breath, and I caught the words and breathed again.

Homewards I went then to my brothers, and we listened to the song that breathed all the night.

Mother of the sea, Greenland. Illustration Malin Skinnar

The Inuit art of telling stories was theatre in its most intimate form.

Movement, mimicry and symbolism formed a tapestry strong enough to survive for thousands of years among the nomads of the tundra.

The sagas can seem illogical, with astonishing, often highly grotesque turns, something that inspire many artists. The stories are true art.

This can be explained by the life supporting messenger — the saga — constantly being kept alive.

Words took on new forms at the same time as symbols and memories changed costume, all to match the listeners’ need of recognition.

The legend of the Mother of the Sea, the best-known of the mythological forms of the Inuit, is said in some tales to be the wife to the Animal with the Iron Tail — a creature that sought its way with its tail backwards across the ice.

Some believe that this theme of an animal with an iron tail began at a time when mammoths still trod the earth — a creature that has survived orally through tales, but after millennia has become an unintelligible being in the words of the tales.

Perhaps the account of a huge animal’s tail of iron is an interpretation of the mammoth’s immense trunk. These are bewildering thoughts and carry respect for the human ability to preserve experience, knowledge and wisdom from time out of mind.

Tasiilaq, Greenland

Not employing the familiar, European phrase of “Once upon a time . . . “, the storyteller in Greenland catches listeners’ attention by saying “This story is so old that no-one knows from whose throat it first came.

The creator of the legend is said to become visible, and to terrify to death any reteller who added to the tale or subtracted part of it.

The long tales were to alleviate hunger, bring light into darkness — and to maintain hunters’ patience during lengthy waits for prey.

The best teller was the one whose tales listeners never ceased to listen to, whose words caused them to fall asleep!

Words could be given as gifts, or be inherited.

Subject to remarkable rituals, a magic formula could be passed from one man to another: anorak hoods drawn up, back turned to back, high up on a mountain, in a crevice where the sea could not eavesdrop, the donor would intone the formula and the recipient would imitate it, twice, in repetition.

Then the magic words would be transmitted, being effective only for the one who had been seized of the couplet.

To assure himself that his being contained no remaining words of power, the donor would cram his fingers into his throat and cast up what was left!

Children in Sermiligaaq village, Greenland 1993 with storyteller Malin Skinnar

Storyteller Malin Skinnar  and kids in Sermiligaaq village 1993.

“People were once aware of the power of words,” related the old East Greenland man, Asineq;

“Words could once caress or like a harpoon, pierce their goal like a whiplash.

A sore from a weapon might burn until it had healed, but a word pleases or wounds for life.

Words have an amazing strength.”

Graphic art, Malin Skinnar

Mask dances resolve conflicts

Of old, when small hunting com- munities could comprise some fifty people, individuals depended entirely on one another and a conflict could be a total catastrophe.

Problems were often resolved through parodic, masked dances or tales, into which the conflict would be gently woven. Tougher problems were resolved through lampoons and drum dances.

The listeners would take sides, for and against whoever might have offended the community, and the loser would be laughed out of the village.

The nomadic life from which the Inuit have descended has refined their tradition of oral narrative.

When on the move, people could have no burden other than the sledge they pulled, the child they carried or the old people who sought support.

Words carried wisdom, and the language was filled with metaphors so that a valuable detailed knowledge should find a firm niche and follow from generation to generation.

Graphic Art, Malin Skinnar

Pictorial words

The language of Greenland (polysynthetic) is rich in clear, painterly words that we can represent only with wordy sentences.

Nowadays, the written, rational language of Greenland would be lost in any competition with the briefer, more concise Danish. By contrast, many Greenland writers find their own tongue contains many distinct nuances that European communications lack.

“To translate my texts to Danish or English is to try to describe a painting with codes!” claimed a  poet.

But many try — and succeed with exciting results. In his novel about the Greenland girl, Smilla, the Danish novelist, Peter Hoeg, describes part of the “language of Greenland as a union of space, movement and time that is self-evident for the inuits but cannot be reproduced in any everyday European language.”

Graphic Art, Malin Skinnar

The Inuit of Greenland are said to belong to the group of native people that has come furthest in their pursuit of the right to decide for them- selves over their future.

Since 1979, when Home Rule for Greenland was introduced by the Danish parliament, the language of Greenland has lived through a rebirth, having been accorded formal equality with Danish.

In the capital of Nuuk, on the west coast, the attitude changed during the 80:th and spreed native power all over Greenland.

Everything is there, all going on and at once —  kayaks, science, seal hunters and hiphopers, one as usual as another.

At present an exclusive fusion of  culture are bearing fruit, after the early ears of an arctic revolution.

Artists and musicians  boldly mix the throat songs  with distorted guitars, and actors find inspiration in the timeless stories and myths of the island.

Greenlandic contemporary art and culture is  very interesting and inspiring.

Children in Kungmiut, East Greenland 1993

Dance of life

An actress, Laila Hanssen, works much with children. In many performances she uses the former ritual mask dance. It has three elements: the clown, the rite of fertility and the revelation of the child’s fear.

The dance is about life as a whole and can express the hard, whipping of the hurricane wind or the terror felt on coming face to face with a polar bear.

Once it was possible to train children in the ability to cope with fear.

The surprising movements of the grotesque mask dance should offer them the possibility of being frightened under secure circumstances at a moment of danger in the wilderness, when a decision would bring life or death, the child was trained to act rather than to be paralysed.

Sagas now are not really suited to the modern, contradictory Greenland.

“Eeeeemiliooop” cry the laughing children at the daycare centre when they learn that I am Swedish.  Astrid Lindgren’s Emil in Lönneberga has come to live on the tundra, with chickens, and cows, and little Ida’s summer song.

The tale of the Mother of the Sea has perhaps been used as far as it can be, but actor-work on, dramatising their inherited culture and searching deeper into the treasures of the sagas.

Laila sometimes stands in at daycare centres, and says that she can scarcely come through the door before the children beg her to tell stories.

“The kids sit as if bewitched for hours, listening.”

Hunter in Ittoqqortoormiit, east Greenland 1996

The Greenland sagas are often complicated, with surprising turns and abrupt resolutions. Laila considers that the sagas that are brutal help children to expose their fear in the presence of others.

“Children nowadays are over-protected and lack the excitement that nature offers.

Our tales have changes as unexpected as the unpredictable nature of the Arctic.

I believe that they learn their country through the sagas and themselves through myths.”

The return of the torch in the sky

The midwinter darkness had begun to relax its grip on the Arctic and I met little Kista.

She had just cut out a yellow paper sun as a greeting to the return of the torch in the sky.

Kista’s daycare centre group would welcome the sun — as people once always did, some months after the constellation of Aasuutit had appeared on the horizon to the east.

We were to dress up finely, as the Inuits used to do, and the daycare staff put thermoses of hot cocoa into the children’s small haversacks.

Inuit Woman, Ikateq Greenland, 1993, Photo Malin Skinnar

Dried seal meat

The sandwich boxes were filled with fine festive food in honbur of the sun.

The children were going to eat both dried seal meat and fine black berries with oil from seal blubber.

The everyday Danish-type food at the daycare centre had no place in in the haversacks.

Kista showed her own food bag and smiled all over her face: dried, plaited, blood-filled seal intestines lay like liquorice sticks in a fine bunch!

The snow was hard and the children trotted off in their colourful overalls up the hill. Each one held tightly onto a small flower stick with a yellow paper sun glued to its end.

It was hard to walk, because all the children wanted to look at their own suns and also to tread in the small footprints of the children in front.

After much tumbling about, blowing of noses and taping-on of sun rays we reached the crevice on the cliff where the first rays of the sun could be seen. The children knew that the small stars of Aasuutit had hunted the sun up out of the dark and that the blinking of the Pole Star came as the message that she — the sun — was here.

A golden glow spread along the horizon and the first rays of the sun touched the red cliff tops on the Kissaviannguit hill.

— Nineteen small yellow paper suns were lifted high into the wind and the children’s song echoed for miles around.

“Ajaajaa the long winter, the deep snow. — The boundary is reached. Those up there say so. . . Ajaajaa, ajaajaa!

Yes, yes — it will be glorious — pleasant warmth. The newly emergent makes us glad. Ajaajaa, ajaajaa! Such happy people — Ajaajaa!

Girls in folk costume, ittoqqortoormiit, east Greenland 1993

Yes, yes — it will be glorious — pleasant warmth. The rising sun makes us glad. Ajaajaa, ajaajaa! Such happy people — Ajaajaa!

Words where magic - on sagas in Greenland
Words where magic - on sagas in Greenland
Kalaallit Nunaat - Greenland, article by Malin Skinnar

Kayaking, east Greenland


This story is told by Malin Skinnar from Sweden, who spent most time during the 90:th travelling in Greenland.

Article, illustration and photo by Malin Skinnar 

This article was first published in the Swedish periodical Barn & Kultur 1/94.

Malin Skinnar video creator, storyteller and visual artist

The sun is back – Tasiilaq, Greenland

Child in East Greenland Sermiligaq, photo Malin Skinnar

Ninteen small yellow paper suns were lifted high into the wind and the children’s song echoed miles around.

“Ajaajaa the long winter, the deep snow. – The boundary is reached. Those up here say so..

The return of the torch in the sky

Girls in folk costume, ittoqqortoormiit, east Greenland 1993

Ljusets återkomst 

Greenland, Tasiilaq, boys. Photo Malin Skinnar

The midwinter darkness had begun to relax its grip on the Arctic and I met little Kista.

She had just cut out a yellow paper sun as a greeting to the return of the torch in the sky.

Kista’s daycare centre group would welcome the sun.

People celebrating like they always did, some months after the constellation of Aasuutit had appeared on the horizon to the east.

We were to dress up finely, as the Inuits used to do, and the daycare staff put thermoses of hot cocoa into the children’s small haversacks.

Tasilaaq, Inuit girls. Photo Malin Skinnar

The sandwich boxes were filled with fine festive food in honour of the sun.

The children were going to eat both dried seal meat and fine black berries with oil from seal blubber.

The everyday Danish-type food at the daycare centre had no place in in the haversacks.

Kista showed her own food bag and smiled all over her face: dried, plaited, blood-filled seal intestines lay like liquorice sticks in a fine bunch!

The snow was hard and the children trotted off in their colourful overalls up the hill.

Each one held tightly onto a small flower stick with a yellow paper sun glued to its end.

It was hard to walk, because all the children wanted to look at their own suns and also to tread in the small footprints of the children in front.

After much tumbling about, blowing of noses and taping-on of sun rays we reached the crevice on the cliff where the first rays of the sun could be seen.

The children knew that the small stars of Aasuutit had hunted the sun up out of the dark and that the blinking of the Pole Star came as the message that she — the sun — was here.

A golden glow spread along the horizon and the first rays of the sun touched the red cliff tops on the Kissaviannguit hill.

— Nineteen small yellow paper suns were lifted high into the wind and the children’s song echoed for miles around.

“Ajaajaa the long winter, the deep snow. — The boundary is reached. Those up there say so. . . Ajaajaa, ajaajaa!

Yes, yes — it will be glorious — pleasant warmth. The newly emergent makes us glad. Ajaajaa, ajaajaa! Such happy people — Ajaajaa!

Inuit boys, east Greenland

Text/ Photo: Malin Skinnar, storyteller from Sweden in love with Greenland

Child in East Greenland Sermiligaq, photo Malin Skinnar
Malin Skinnar video creator, storyteller and visual artist

Jag behöver rymden

Moon, luna, måne by www.malinstoryteller.com

Blodmåne och asteroider

Jag behöver rymden – tycker mycket är smått, mystiskt trångt. Konversationer utan mening och sammanhang utan begriplighet. Jag behöver natten – den kolsvarta, vargen som kanske smyger i snön, vattnet som försvinner – tystnaden för att leva.

Illustration Malin Skinnar

Jag behöver rymden.

tycker mycket är smått, mystiskt trångt.

Konversationer utan mening,

seder utan hyfs, bruk utan ton.

Sammanhang utan begriplighet.

Jag behöver natten – den kolsvarta. Vargen som kanske smyger, snön – den jobbiga,

vattnet som försvinner. Tystnaden, oumgänget, bortblundandet.

Jag får mark under fötterna

när det regnar vintergator,

när det ramlar universum,

på jorden – mitt bo.

Länge och många gånger sökte jag mig till Arktis…

till Grönland – för att få tyst i huvudet.

Jag har varit där så otroligt mycket, med vartenda revben – med hälar och tunga.

Paddlat på hav och kurat med jägare.

I det karga, på platser där få ting kan tänkas eller konstrueras där oförutsedda händelser ramlar över en.

Smällkylan – gnistervidden.

Isbergen – de som välter runt, tippar, slår och skjuter hål i båtskrov.

Valskjärtar som piskar.

Låg reling – djupaste hav.

Moon, luna, måne by www.malinstoryteller.com

Bivack – läger  under snö.

Borsta gången för syret.

Skor – varma… inga hål.

Ta hand om sig själv – sitt eget,  se om sitt hus, reda sitt bo. Ordna nästet, se till det bästa hjälpa sin nästa.

Bli hjälpt. Ta sig fram. Knacka på.

Då vi ses för vädret tillåter och stannar en evighet eller iallafall till imorgon.

Då vi talar för rymden tillåter och jorden snurrar.

Jag bor oftast i skogen, bortom ljuset – långt från alla.

Vill det.

Inga ljud – inget blinkar. Tystnad.

Men ibland babblar mossan, vrålar hjorten och snart smyger kanske vargen å då blir det stilla i mitt hjärta, fullt av frågor om varandets varför och vems är rätten att riva.

När asteroider stora som isberg far från söder,  när det regnar meteorer  från nord och när månen skyms av oss på jorden, när han rodnar, blir till klot som syns –  kan jag vila.

Just då känns det som viktiga ting blir tydligare.

Att religös vanföreställning och andlig virrighet stillas.

Att pladder om måsten tystnar.

Att du just nu  är här.

Med mig.

Vi kan ju ändå inget påverka.

Bara vara uti.

Vi lever som ufon i ett hav av eonisk otid.

Jag, du, älgen o alla som hatar.

Alla som älskar,

alla som vill och ovill.

Det som sker det sker.

oavsett val och önskan.

Malin Skinnar

Kayaking, east Greenland

Vlogg om Rymdsvindel i husbilen nedan.

Paper cut art by Malin Skinnar

Meteor, komet, atseroid. Allt gör mig lugn… Alltet gör mig alltid lugn. Blodmånens mörka sken.  Stjärnor i fall, asteroidregn och dunder. 

Under en total månförmörkelse kommer månen skymmas av jorden och en skugga bildas som kallas umbra.  Om månen står i en viss position så ser den  blodröd ut. Det är ett långsamt och mäktig himlafenomen som ger perspektiv på månen som det klot han verkligen är. – Ensamt seglande men alltid nära …

Malin Skinnar video creator, storyteller and visual artist