Tag Archives: spirits



The helping spirit, Issitoq, assists in locating those who have breached taboos. Known as Giant-eye, his melancholy nature and peculiar appearance was portrayed by the Eskimo Arnaqaoq… (Drawing by Arnaqaoq from Rasmussen, Rasmussens Thulefahrt.) 

‘The Big Lemming’, stonecut print by Pudlo, Cape Dorset, Eskimo, 1961

Carving of a tupilak (spirit), Eskimo, collected in Angmagssalik, E. Greenland, 1931-2. National Museum of Denmark, Department of Ethnography

An Eskimo shaman spirit, with leg bones and inner organs revealed, seems to stalk his prey with sacrificial blade in hand. The … deer mask reveals the transcendental nature of the spirit’s bloody mission. Stonecut print by William Noah, Barnabas Oosuaq and Martha Noah, Baker Lake, Eskimo, 1970. Sanavik Cooperative, Baker Lake, on loan to the Winnepeg Art Gallery

Screen print after a canyon painting. S.E. Utah

The spirit that attacks and destroys the shaman-neophyte can become instructor, ally, and helper after the trials and ordeals of initiation have been endured. Among many Eskimo peoples, for example, the acquisition of spirits was often a violent process involving maiming and dismembering, The Eskimo shaman Niviatsian reported that, when he was being attacked by a walrus two other spirits ravaged him. This carving depicts a spirit wielding a knife of initiatory dismemberment. (Whalebone, antler,  sinew, ivory, and stone carving by Karoo Ashvak, Spence Bay, Eskimo, 1972) 

Reading Shaman: The wounded healer by Joan Halifax.