Untranslatable words – Qarrtsiluni


Qarrtsiluni. Inuit, Iñupiaq / v. / kʌːrʒ.sɪ.luːnɪ / kartz-sih-loo-nih –  Sitting together in the darkness, perhaps expectantly (e.g., waiting for something to happen or to ‘burst forth’); the strange quiet before a momentous event.

The Inuits initially used this to describe their ritual of finding new songs to honour a whale each year. The hunter men would go to a special house where no lamps were lit, and would sit there in silence as a group thinking of beautiful things, anticipating the inspiration which was about to stream into their collective consciousness. And then they made their songs.

I think Qarrtsiluni is a beautiful concept, capturing so many moments in our lives – I can think of numerous occasions when I have experienced this feeling, when you know something wonderful is about to happen but it is that tipping point where it has not yet begun.


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