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Nanook : The Polar Bear God

Nanook

Introduction

In Inuit mythology, Nanook was the leader of bears, and he would punish hunters who violated taboos. He was also known to bless hunters who were worthy of his blessings. The origins of Nanook can be traced back to the Innuit mythology. He is regarded as a patron of hunters who have the opportunity to decide who among them should be granted his blessings. The Inuit are an indigenous group that can be found in various regions such as Greenland, Alaska, and Northern Canada. The myth of the Nanook originated in these areas.

Physical Traits

According to the myth, Nanook was able to look like a human being due to the features of polar bears, such as their long fingers and their ability to stand upright. This led some of the tribes of the Inuit to believe that they were the descendants of bears.

Other Names

The Nanook was also known as Tornarssuk. Nanook or Nanuk also means polar bear in Inuktitut.

Powers and Abilities

The hunters believed that Nanook was the one who would decide who would be successful in a hunting expedition. In the past, they would eat the polar bear meat and use its fur for making warm clothes and kamiks, which are soft boots for women. Nanook was regarded as a deity by the hunters, whose hide would be kept inside the igloo for his blessings.

If a polar bear was a male, the hunters would offer its spirit, weapons and other offerings such as knives. Needle cases and scrapers were offered if it was female. They believed that killing the animal was necessary to obtain its souls, which they would then take with them into the afterlife. According to legend, if a polar bear was treated properly, it would be able to share the good news with other animals so they would also be eager to be killed by the hunter.

Modern Day Influence

Nanook was worshipped both as a hunter god and as a totemic ancestor of the people. According to the legend once Nanook was chased by hunting dogs. Hunt went on and on and Nanook was not able to shake its pursuers off. They ran all the way to the edge of the world. In the joy of the hunt Nanook and the dogs did not notice the cliff. They all plunged into the star sky. This is how the constellation of Pleiades was born. Next to the Pleiades in the constellation of Ursa Major which for the Inuits represented Giant Caribou.

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Disclaimer: While it is the intention Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.

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