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Exploring Postcolonial History: Sir Martin Frobisher
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Illustration of Inuit Woman 'Arnaq' and baby 'Nutaaq'

We believe this to be a watercolour image of Arnaq and Nutaaq, an Inuit mother and 12 month old boy from Frobisher Bay who were forcibly removed by Frobisher and brought back to England. Can you see the baby in the hood of the mother’s suit? We believe they weren’t related to Kalicho. Nutaaq was injured at the time of the capture by an arrow on his arm. The expedition doctor applied salves, but Arnaq pulled them away and healed Nutaaq’s arm by licking it.  

Arnaq and Nutaaq both died shortly after arriving in England. Arnaq died from a disease which caused boils to erupt all over her skin, probably a European disease to which they had no resistance. She is buried in Bristol. A nurse was hired to take Nutaaq to London to show him to the Queen but he died soon after arriving there. He is buried in St Olave’s Churchyard in London.

We are unsure if this watercolour was painted from life in the voyage, in Bristol once they had landed, or after death from memory. Do you think this is reliable evidence? What does it tell us?

The English were careful to record what they believed to be their names, but Arnaq probably meant ‘woman’ and Nutaaq ‘child’.

Image: The Trustees of the British Museum