History of Allunaariaqattaarneq

Indications from Inuit folklore and oral history place the birth of allunaariaqattaarneq too far in the past to set a precise date on. The earliest mention in written European accounts comes from 1576 when the English explorer Martin Frobisher, while searching for the Northwest Passage encountered a group of Inuits. They came aboard his ship and, "to show their agility they tried many masteries upon the ropes of the ship" leading Frobisher to conclude that they were "very strong of their arms and nimble of their bodies."

More specific references came later. In 1741 the missionary Hans Egede made illustrations of the rope activities he observed in Greenland. Kaj Birket Smith in 1920 recorded the specifics of several exercises. Noted Greenlandic historian H.C. Petersen has collected information on the subject in the early 1980's. In 1985 Qaannat Kattuffiat a.k.a. the Greenland Kayaking Association was formed to preserve and advance the traditional kayaking heritage. As a part of this effort rope gymnastics was included in the competitive championship they began regularly holding. The formalized rules, manuevers, and point values have evolved considerably since then.

With the increase in awareness of and enthusiasm for traditional kayaking outside of Greenland allunaariaqattaarneq has also gained adherents and visibility internationally.