Amarok (wolf)

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An Amarok, or Amaroq, is a gigantic wolf in Inuit mythology, said to stalk and devour any person foolish enough to hunt alone at night. Unlike wolves who hunt in packs, amaroks hunt alone.

Writing in the 19th century, Danish geologist and Greenlandic scholar Hinrich Johannes Rink reported that the Greenlandic Inuit reserve the word Amarok exclusively for this legendary wolf, whereas other Arctic peoples use it to refer to any wolf.[1]:48

Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo[edit]

In his book Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo,[2] Rink recounts several folk legends that feature the Amarok.[1]

In one tale, a persecuted and physically stunted boy seeks to increase his strength. When he calls out to the lord of strength, an Amarok appears and wrestles him to the ground with its tail. This causes a number of small bones to fall from the boy's body. The Amarok tells the boy that the bones had prevented his growth; he instructs the boy to return daily in order to develop his strength. After several days of wrestling with the amarok, the boy is strong enough to overcome three large bears, thus gaining him the esteem of his village.[1]:94

In another story, a man mourning the death of a relative hears reports that an Amarok is nearby. He and a relative go in search of the Amarok. They find instead her pups, and the mourner kills them all. The mourner's relative becomes frightened. The two retreat to hide in a cave. Looking out, they see the adult Amarok returning to her pups, carrying a reindeer in her mouth. When the Amarok fails to find her offspring, she hastens to a nearby lake and drags a humanoid form from the water; at that moment, the mourner collapses. The Amarok, "from which nothing remains concealed", took the mourner's soul from his body.[1]:464

In some tales, a person captures or kills an amarok. The myth of the Amarok was most likely originated from the tale ancient Eskimos told about direwolves. [1]:215,249,438,457,470

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Rink, Hinrich (1997). Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo. Mineola: Dover Publications. ISBN 9780486299662. OCLC 37331533.
  2. ^ Danish: Eskimoiske eventyr og sagn, oversatte efter de indfødte fortælleres opskrifter og meddelelser (1866)