Pitseolak occasionally drew on the legends she heard in her youth, particularly from her father. The scene in the upper part of the drawing depicts a critical moment in the story of the woman who became a narwhal. To escape her husband’s abuse, the woman jumps off a cliff; she does not die but is instead transformed into a narwhal. Pitseolak depicts the moment of transformation that saves the woman, with her long braid twisting into the tusk of a narwhal.
Shared History: The Drawings of Pitseolak Ashoona
Pitseolak Ashoona, Legend of the Woman Who Turned into a Narwhal, c.1974
Coloured felt-tip pen on paper, 66 x 50.7 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa