DWELLINGS FOR ALL PURPOSES
The Inuits lived in and from their natural surroundings, and this required dwellings that were easy to build and which were located close to the places where the hunting was good. Right up until the mid-1950s there were still regions in Greenland where the Inuits lived in rather primitive, but highly adequate, dwellings.
This is particularly true of the winter dwelling, which was a turf hut, as well as the more mobile tent made from animal hide, and the igloo, a temporary shelter made of snow.
THE GREENLANDIC IGLOO
During the winter it was sometimes necessary to build a temporary home if the hunters were away for longer periods or were caught out by bad weather. In this case the igloo was ideal. The word ‘igloo’ actually means ‘house’, and although it is a somewhat primitive house, the igloo can provide shelter and temperatures adequate for survival.
An igloo is constructed of large blocks of snow that are cut out in different sizes with a special snow knife. The blocks are placed on top of each other in a spiral and form an effective dome-shaped shelter. The igloo was only used in the very north of Greenland, where the sea was frozen in winter.