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  • Qiviut – Musk Ox Wool

    Qiviut is the Greenlandic word for the downy wool that the wild musk oxen of Greenland hide underneath their coarse overcoat - a unique material that fashion designers around the world are beginning to recognize for it’s fine qualities.

    Musk ox wool is one of the most exclusive and rare wools available, while one of the softest and warmest; softer than cashmere and 8 times warmer than sheep-wool. It is light as a feather, does not shed and will not shrink in water at any temperature - unlike sheep-wool. Furthermore it does not smell when wet and will keep you warm even when soaked. Finally musk ox wool is easy to maintain and will easily last you 20 years with the right care.

    Musk ox wool is collected from the wild musk oxen that live in the frozen tundra of Greenland - the largest land mammal in Greenland weighing up to 400 kilos (880 lbs.).

    “A Giant Sheep”
    In fact the musk ox is closer related to goats and sheep than oxen, however their wool is much warmer than that of sheep, since the musk oxen have to withstand temperatures down to minus 60’ Celsius. No other hoofed animal live as far north as the musk ox, when the musk ox can live in the harsh conditions of the artic tundra it is because of its 60 cm long hair and woolly undercoat ward off frost and provide insulation.

    Collecting the Wool
    An adult musk ox can produce 0,8 - 1,5 kg a year. The wool can either be collected during the molting season or from hides bought from the hunters during the hunting season. Wool for larger productions are most often bought directly from the hunters, since it is time consuming to collect the wool in the tundra. This is for instance the case in Sisimiut where Anita Høgh runs the well-established store QIVIUT.

    Wool Workshops
    Through local workshops many Greenlanders have learned to process the wool themselves, as did Elisabeth Josefsen. Her husband, who is a hunter, sends her the hides from Kangerlussuaq. She then process the wool herself and what started as a hobby is today a full-time job where she sells both from her home and over the internet.

    Nothing is lost
    In the traditional Greenlandic way everything from the animal is used once killed: The meat is a delicacy, used in traditional cocking as well as in finer restaurants; the horns and bones are used for jewelry, pens, buttons and other crafts; and finally the wool is used for yarn and knitwear.