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Nukúnguasik, Who Escaped from the Tupilak

NUKÚNGUASIK, it is said, had land in a place with many brothers. When the brothers made a catch, they gave him meat for the pot; he himself had no wife.

                One day he rowed northward in his kayak, and suddenly he took it into his head to row over to a big island which he had never visited before, and now wished to see. He landed, and went up to look at the land, and it was very beautiful there.

                And here he came upon the middle one of many brothers, busy with something or other down in a hollow, and whispering all the time. So he crawled stealthily towards him, and when he had come closer, he heard him whispering these words:

                "You are to bite Nukúnguasik to death; you are to bite Nukúnguasik to death."

                And then it was clear that he was making a Tupilak, [1] and stood there now telling it what to do. But suddenly Nukúnguasik slapped him on the side and said: "But where is this Nukúnguasik?"

                And the man was so frightened at this that he fell down dead.

                And then Nukúnguasik saw that the man had been letting the Tupilak sniff at his body. And the Tupilak was now alive, and lay there sniffing. But Nukúnguasik, being afraid of the Tupilak, went away without trying to harm it.

                Now he rowed home, and there the many brothers were waiting in vain for the middle one to return. At last the day dawned, and still he had not come. And daylight came, and then as they were preparing to go out in search of him, the eldest of them said to Nukúnguasik:

                "Nukúnguasik, come with us; we must search for him."

                And so Nukúnguasik went with them, but as they found nothing, he said:

                "Would it not be well to go and make search over on that island, where no one ever goes?"

                And having gone on to the island, Nukúnguasik said:

                "Now you can go and look on the southern side."

                When the brothers reached the place, he heard them cry out, and the eldest said:

                "O wretched one! Why did you ever meddle with such a thing as this!"

                And they could be heard weeping all together about the dead man.

                And now Nukúnguasik went up to them, and there lay the Tupilak, still alive, and nibbling at the body of the dead man. But the brothers buried him there, making a mound of stones above him. And then they went home.

                Nukúnguasik lived there as the oldest in the place, and died at last after many years.

                Here I end this story: I know no more.


The particular source of this tale is South-East Greenland.


[1] Tupilak: a monster created by one having magic powers, who uses it to wreak vengeance on an enemy.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Nukúnguasik, Who Escaped from the Tupilak
Tale Author/Editor: Rasmussen, Knud
Book Title: Eskimo Folk-Tales
Book Author/Editor: Rasmussen, Knud
Publisher: Gyldendal
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1921
Country of Origin: Greenland
Classification: unclassified

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