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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Inuit Angekkok

The concept of a shaman, a holy man who is a communicator between the spiritual world and our own, is a pretty universal concept.  The Inuit shaman is known as an angekkok, whose role is to communicate between humans and animal spirits.  Animals are critical to the Inuit existence.  Their environment is not one in which agricultural cultivation is at all a possibility.  So they depend on two things.  One is their ability to stay warm, and the other is their ability to hunt and therefore eat.  These both depend on animals and  they use all parts of the animals they hunt, from the meat and organs for food, their bones for making boats and housing, and their skins and intestines to make clothing.  They ritually throw back anything that they cannot use to the ocean, to give it back.  They revere the animals that they hunt, and the shaman is responsible for maintaining that good relationship.  These masks are quite varied and beautiful, and are carved traditionally from driftwood that comes up on shore, as well as with feathers and bones. 

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