Lighting the qulliq (traditional Inuit oil lamp)

A reimagined Malina in the absence of trauma and within the abundance of light

By: Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona

Malina is my reimagined story of the sun goddess. In the original story, Malina is repeatedly sexually assaulted in the dark by her brother and flees into the sky when she catches him in the act. The story is that she becomes the sun and the brother becomes the moon, chasing her everyday. I created this woodcut print to show her outside of her story of violence. In this piece she exists in safety, waking up in the morning to spread the qulliq (traditional Inuit oil lamp) light and warmth to the day. I didn't want to rewrite history or say the traditional story is wrong... but I wanted to provide an alternate storyline that shines a light forward in the absence of trauma.

What does this piece mean to you?

This piece, Malina, envisions a world and history where the sun woman isn’t a victim. It means starting the day with warmth, light and feminine strength. It also marks the beginning of letting myself create my own worlds and stories.

What does storytelling mean to you?

Inuit use storytelling as a way to transfer knowledge and oral history. It’s how we keep our culture and relationships alive.

If you could imagine a future for this world, what would it look like?

Oh wow, I would love a return to traditions, anti-globalization and anti-capitalism, with free information sharing, more social supports, renewable energy, housing and food as a right, feminism as the norm… the list is long.

How do you see this work intersecting with people of the past? People of the future?

It would have been difficult to envision a world in the past where Malina could be her own person, existing outside of gendered violence. I would love to think that this is a turning point for people in the future: that they could look back and see a shift in attitudes.

What do you hope for?

I hope for small but big things: being present and content. I mean, I would love it if the world would change, but I tend to focus on things within my small control radius.

Editor’s note:

The Inuit people had a captivating tale that offered an explanation for the movement of the sun and moon. The story goes that the sun was a divine being called Malina, while her brother, Anningan, was the god of the moon. In their youth, the two siblings played together in the dark.

One fateful night, Anningan committed an unforgivable act by violating his sister. A fierce altercation ensued, resulting in a broken seal-oil lamp and spilled oil on Malina's hands. While fleeing from her brother, she ran into the sky, where they both transformed into the sun and moon.

As fate would have it, Anningan continues to pursue his sister across the sky to this day, making it rare for the sun and moon to be visible together. Anningan's obsessive pursuit of his sister is so intense that he often forgets to eat, causing him to become increasingly emaciated over time. Consequently, he is forced to leave the sky for three days each month. This pattern is what gives rise to the lunar cycle.

At times, Anningan manages to catch up with his sister, leading to a fascinating natural phenomenon - a solar eclipse in the sky.

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