In Canada Northern Quebec tends to produce realistic, naturalistic work such as birds or hunting scenes. Baffin Island sculpture is more detailed and finer, often with varying depictions of people. The central Arctic area art embraces spiritual themes, and whalebone is often employed. As a result of interest and appreciation in Inuit carvings there are now mass-produced imitations which are widely seen and sold. Genuine works are always marked with a tag or sticker with an igloo symbol on it.
Many are also signed by the artist. The type of retail outlet is also an indicator. A reputable store and not a souvenir kiosk will likely stock the real thing. Aside from the maker and the quality, imitations are not often even made of the true raw material and really are of no value or interest. Inuit artists also produce prints which are highly regarded. Subject matter often is taken from mythology but other works depict traditional day-to-day activities, events and chores. Prices are best in the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. The best of Canada Native Indian art is also expressed in printmaking although there is some fine carving and basketry.
Probably the country’s best known Indian paintings are those by artist Norval Morrisseau. The carvings and totems of Bill Reid and Roy Henry Vickers from the west coast have established them as major international figures. Across Canada much of what is sold as Native Indian art and craft in Canada is pretty cheap and tacky and a poor likeness to the work which was done at one time and to what can still be found with some effort. Some of the most interesting and best quality items from either Inuit or Native Indian artisans are the clothes: moccasins (mukluks), knitted sweaters (from Vancouver Island, known as Cowichan sweaters) and parkas (warm winter coats). Some interesting jewelry and beadwork can also be found.
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