Amarok (wolf)

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Amarok (or Amaroq) is the name of a gigantic wolf in Inuit mythology.


It is said to hunt down and devour anyone foolish enough to hunt alone at night. Unlike real wolves who hunt in packs, Amarok hunts alone. It is sometimes considered equivalent to the waheela of cryptozoology.[citation needed] See also Amaguq; a trickster and wolf god.

Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo[edit]

In Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo, Hinrich Rink recounts several folk legends that feature the amarok.[1] Some notable tales include:

  • A persecuted and physically-stunted young boy sought to increase his strength. When he called out to the lord of strength, an amarok appeared and wrestled him to the ground with its tail. This caused a number of small bones to fall from the boy's body. The amarok told the boy that the bones had prevented his growth; furthermore, the amarok instructed the boy to return to it daily, in order to gain strength. After several days of wrestling with the amarok, the boy gained enough strength to defeat three large bears and gain the esteem of his village.[1]:94
  • A man, who mourned the death of a relative, heard reports that an amarok was nearby. He became compelled to seek the amarok and began his search, accompanied by a relative. They found the amarok's young offspring, and the mourner killed them all. The mourner's relative became frightened and sought refuge in a nearby cave, with the mourner following. From the cave, they saw the adult amarok approaching, carrying a whole reindeer in its jaws. When the amarok could not find its offspring, it rushed to a nearby lake and began to haul out something human-shaped. Simultaneously, the mourner collapsed. It was said that the amarok, "from which nothing remains concealed," took the mourner's soul from his body.[1]:464

Rink recounts other tales where an amarok was killed or captured by a human.[1]:215,249,438,457,470

Rink claims that native Greenlanders use the term "amarok" to describe a large, "fabulous" animal, whereas other Arctic peoples use the term to refer to a wolf.[1]:48 In specific instances, Rink often specifies that the amarok is "fabulous" in nature;[1]:94,215,438 other instances are left unspecified and may refer to a wolf.[1]:249,457,470

Popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Rink, Hinrich. Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo. Dover, 1997. (also on Google Books)