Given the fact that Inuit sculptures are highly prized as Canadian souvenirs and as art objects, it is unfortunately inevitable that mass-produced reproductions and imitations have proliferated. These items, made of plastic, ceramic or "cast stone", sometimes tempt the uninformed consumer by their lower price. These imitations generally have no investment or aesthetic value whatsoever, and are in no way endorsed by the Canadian government or the Inuit of Canada. In fact, they tend to lower the image and reduce the sales of genuine Inuit sculpture, thus depriving Inuit artists of income.
To protect the consumer and Inuit carvers, the Canadian government has registered the symbol of the igloo as a trademark. Sculptures bearing this "igloo tag" or sticker are certified to be handmade by Inuit.
Inuit carvers often (but not always) incise the bottoms of their works with their signatures in Roman letters or syllabics. The chart will help you to decipher any syllabics you may find. Some sculptures may also have a "disc number" inscribed on the bottom. These numbers,prefixed by an "E" or "W", are another kind of signature.
If you have questions concerning any aspect of Inuit sculpture, please contact the Inuit Art Section, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ottawa K1AOH4.