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Legends of Greenland Legends of Greenland

This remarkable and detailed woodcut is from the legend of Aqissiaq. The legends of the Inuit people have been passed on from generation to generation in an oral tradition, which continued throughout centuries before a written language had been developed. The information about the traditional way of life of the Inuit people was sparse when three men in the middle of the 19th century began to gather the tales of the Inuits.

The three men were geologist Hinrich Johannes Rink (1819-1893), Vicar Peter Kragh (1794-1883), and the college professor Vittus Steenholdt (1808-1862) and the project was exceptional at the time. Firstly, because it provided an occasion for Greenlanders wrote down their own tales in Greenlandic and secondly since it involved a Danish translation by poet Rasmus Berthelsen (1827-1901) that shared the fascinating tales with a Scandinavian audience. The sheer volume of the project was also outstanding as the project collected enough legends to publish four volumes. In addition, the aesthetic quality of the publications were remarkable due to the illustrations of the local artist Aron of Kangeq (1822-1869).
The first volume was one of the very first Greenlandic publications altogether, published in 1859 with the title Kaladlit oKalluKtualliait: kalâdlisut kablunâtudlo / Folktales of the Greenlanders: Written and Told by Natives. The fourth and final volume was published in 1865.

The legends concern a wealth of topics such as rules for living, jealousy, revenge, cultural meetings and conducts for hunting as well as weather phenomena. Most of Aron’s woodcuts illustrate everyday life, the fights and hunting, however some show nature as well. The included woodcut is from the tale of Aqissiaq. It tells the story of the boy Aqissiaq who grew up to be faster and stronger than anyone around him. It also depicts the youth of a settlement playing games and the way they learn about hunting and fishing from the elders. Aqissiaq is superior to the others and moves out of the settlement. He is searching for his peer. Only when he finds this person can he truly settle down. This woodcut portrays the settlement before Aqissiaq leaves and the ancient Inuit ball game where a stuffed seal functions as the ball.


M/S Hans Hedtoft M/S Hans Hedtoft

The majestic, Danish merchant ship M/S Hans Hedtoft was built to be unsinkable – even in the harsh Arctic waters.

The maiden voyage to Greenland in January 1959 was a spectacular event and a huge crowd of people showed up at the day of the departure from Copenhagen.

But when the ship began its return jorney, tragedy struck: On 30th of January 1959 M/S Hans Hedtoft sent out an SOS - the ship had collided with an iceberg. A German trawler picked
up the SOS signal and rushed to the location of M/S Hans Hedtoft but it was already too late. There was no sign of the ship nor its crewmembers.

Ever since, the loss of M/S Hans Hedtoft has been surrounded with mystery, as the wreck has never been located even after a thorough search in the following days as well as in modern
times. Nine months after the accident, what turned out to be the only remaining effect washed ashore in Iceland; a lifebuoy carrying the name M/S Hans Hedtoft.

The Central Library of Greenland has made a great effort over many years to gather and register material about the "Greenlandic Titanic", and you can explore the collection on our

Arctic Imagination Arctic Imagination

The first Arctic Imagination event in Nuuk focuses on the traditional Greenlandic way of life – an account of life as hunter and of how rising temperatures and decreasing ice has impacted the hunting trade.

In just 100 years, the Arctic and the North Pole has been transformed from impassable, dangerous and wondrous outer territories to regions in need of our sense of responsibility and protection, for instance in the shape of environmental actions. 
Throughout 2017, five major libraries in New York, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo and Nuuk are collaborating on the unique project, “Arctic Imagination” where creative and artistic personalities and others with something to say – both verbally and visually – are heard.

Read more about the project on

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10 am - 3 pm 11 am - 4 pm 1 pm - 5 pm 11 am - 4 pm 10 am - 3 pm 11 am -14 pm


The library is closed:

Sundays and holidays,
Easter Saturday
National day, June 21st
Dec. 24th
Dec. 31st

Other libraries:

Nunatta Atuagaateqarfia (Central Library of Greenland) (Greenlandic and Danish only)
Eskimoslottet – joint library of Ilinniarfissuaq and Central Greenland Preparatory School (Greenlandic and Danish only)
Peqqissaanermik Ilinniarfik Library - School of Health Education  (Danish only)

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