The children of Greenland an the Inuit/Eskimo world are in need of books rooted in their own culture. At present they predominantly are brought up with Danish literature and thus a world and culture that they find it difficult to relate to.
They need heroes from their own culture,” says Pórto Qisuk who has now created the first in a series of children’s books based on the mythology of Greenland featuring Mother of the Sea as the main character. It is vibrantly illustrated by one of Greenlands finest artists, Kistat Lund and of Danish artist and graphic designer, Finn Hjernøe.
The magical journey to the Creatures on Ocean Floor
Far, far up north in Greenland a small village is hidden against the vast and wild mountains. Its name is Siku. There is a huge stone at the entrance to the village that almost makes it invisible. You can sail past without realizing that a small group of Inuits and Eskimos live there.
Most of the year there is snow, and therefore people live in igloos. They are built with snow, which is so firm that it can be cut into fine blocks stacked on top of each other. There is a great art in building an igloo. The kids love living in igloos. It is so beautiful inside when the light shines through the white snow creating a warm ambience.
The small group of Inuits and Eskimos in the village near the sea live from fishing and hunting. On land there are many fine-looking animals such as caribou, polar bears, wolves, foxes, hares, musk oxen, and some of the people even raise sheep. The sea is full of seals, walruses and different kinds of whales together with great shoals of fish with throngs of birds above the waves that break over beds of shellfish.
So the people do not lack food. There is plenty of it out in the wild, and they eat well, and even if it is cold most of the year with long, dark winters, they live in harmony with nature and her animals.
In a certain small village two siblings live in one of the igloos. The little boy’s name is Qisuk and the little girl is called Naaja. They live with their grandmother. Her name is Naasoq, which means flower.
Naasoq is a small woman. She sews beautiful clothes from the skins brought to her by the hunters from the village. She is an accomplished seamstress. But Naasoq is also an excellent storyteller, and her late husband was a good hunter and a shaman too. His name was Kulloq. He had special abilities, so could help the sick and give people good advice. He could also communicate with nature, animals and the spirits of land and the sea. Kulloq had often gone down to the ocean floor to visit the Mother of the Sea.
“Who is the Mother of the Sea?”
Asked Qisuk one day, and then Naasoq began to tell the story. The two children making themselves comfortable cuddled up in the many soft, warm layers of furs on the igloos bench. Their eyes shone with anticipation. They loved it when their grandmother told her amazing stories:
“Mother of the Sea is the Inuit and Eskimo goddess of Nature, and she lives on the ocean floor.” Started Naasoq while she put warm sealskin over Qisuk and Naaja and lit the oil lamp, which threw its cozy glow against the igloo walls. And she continued:
“There once was a very beautiful girl who lived in a small quaint village. Her eyes were clear and black as the depths of the sea; her hair long, dark and shiny, but this lovely young woman also had a special ability. She could talk to all living creatures and they came to get advice from her.
She had actually always been called Mother of the Sea. When she came into this world birds and wolves were singing outside the igloo. Back then, all creatures and humans spoke the same language, and it was said that the birds and wolves told in song how their friend had been born into the world of Men.
There also came a haunting voice from the beach. It was a dolphin, called Asana, which means the Loving. She sang, “The child shall be called Mother of the Sea.” And the parents were so happy about how the animals welcomed their newborn daughter, and called her by such a sacred name.
When she grew up, she was surrounded by all kinds of creatures. They came to talk with her and to get good guidance. The Mother of the Sea was often on the beach where she spoke with the beings of the oceans. It made them so happy, and they took the joy with them when swimming back into their domains. They told the others about their friend in the small village, and everyone who heard the story swam to the village beach to greet her and hear her advice.
The girl grew up and became even more beautiful. In the village a young man fell in love with her, but she knew that her heart belonged to something else.