Inuit Tupalik of Sedna Transforming to Fish, Greenland
Inuit Sedna Transformating to Fish, c. 1970
Artist Unknown, Greenland
walrus ivory, soapstone base
3” tall x 4.25” long x 1.5” deep
Sedna is the Goddess of the Sea, the mother of all marine mammals.
The Inuit legend tells of a petulant young girl named Sedna, who refused to marry the young men selected by her father. In a fit of teenage rebellion, Sedna ran away with a mysterious masked man who, she later discovered, was a Fulmar seabird. Sedna’s father answered his daughter’s frantic cries for help, rescuing her from the sea bird colony. But, when the sea birds attacked their kayak, the father threw his problematic daughter into the ocean. Clinging to the kayak for her very life, Sedna’s father cut off her fingers, one by one. Sedna disappeared below the waves, and, as her fingers sank into the ocean, they each took the form of a different marine mammal.
Often angry with man, the Sea Woman releases her fury by creating violent storms and seas. For millennia, Inuit shamans have visited Sedna’s underwater lair, swimming down to comb her long, black tangled hair. Once calmed, Sedna stills the sea and releases her seals and whales, providing a bountiful hunt for the Inuit.
Originally carved by the Inuit of Greenland, a Tupilak is a small carved figure which represent either mythical or spiritual creatures.