Balladeer’s Blog has already examined all the major gods and goddesses of the Inuit so here is a look at another one of their mythical heroes. For my initial list of Inuit deities click HERE
ILAGANIQ – The Inuit hero Ilaganiq was born in the village of Imitchaq, which was famous for being right near the edge of a cliff overlooking the Bering Sea. Ever since he was very young Ilaganiq and his brothers were subjected to extensive physical conditioning by their father.
Ilaganiq’s father Aapaang hoped that one of his sons would be the hero to destroy the Amikuk, or “the Skin Octopus” a monster which terrorized the region. The creature was called the Skin Octopus because of its flat body, like a seal-skin stretched and drying in the sun.
Despite its flat body the beast had tentacles like a traditional octopus and it had caused much loss of life as well as many sunken kayaks and umiaks. Aapaang’s youngest son Ilaganiq had been born with webbed hands and feet, making him the fastest swimmer of the family.
Ilaganiq eventually convinced his father that he was the best-suited son to attack and kill the Amikuk. Besides, if he failed, his brothers would still be alive to try to avenge him. An excited but wary Aapaang watched from the heights of Imitchaq as his son set out to face the Skin Octopus in the waters below.
Ilaganiq sat floating in his canoe, patiently serving as bait to lure the Amikuk to the surface. From above his watchful father prayed to Sila, the wind and weather god of the Inuit people.
When the Skin Octopus’ tentacles began to wrap themselves around Ilaganiq’s canoe the web-digited young man dove into the water, rapidly swimming straight for the Amikuk’s flat body. Ilaganiq wore his two best knives in his wrist-bands so that he did not have to carry them while swimming.
Upon closing with the Skin Octopus, Ilaganiq drew both knives at once from his wristbands. The battle between the hero and the monster went on for some time, with the waters frothing and becoming red with blood.
Once, twice, Ilaganiq surfaced to gasp in more air, but both times he returned – or was pulled – back beneath the surface. The third time the young man surfaced was the last time – he had succeeded in slaying the Amikuk.
The hero pulled the dismembered remains of his foe to the shore so that all of the people in the village could see. Ilaganiq gained a degree of fame and there was one less monster to prey upon the Inuit people. +++
FOR THE INUIT GIANT-SLAYER INUURAQ CLICK HERE
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