Akhlut are shapeshifting spirits from Yupik folklore. They appear as either orcas or as wolves, and live among ice floes around the Bering Strait. They are often depicted as a hybrid between an orca and a wolf.

Appearance Edit

In the original folklore, akhlut were gigantic orcas who could shapeshift into equally massive wolves to hunt on land.[1] In traditional art they are usually depicted in mid transformation, with the features of both wolves and whales.[2]

Most modern interpretations portray them as creatures that are perpetually half wolf, half orca rather than shapeshifters. They are generally amphibious.

Yupik Composite Reindeer

An image of the beluga and reindeer version of this creature, carved into a wooden tray.

An occasional variant of the creature appears as a beluga whale, and can transform into a reindeer to traverse on land. It is unclear whether this variation is carnivorous or not.[2]

Behavior Edit

Akhlut are known for their ferocity, and they hunt humans and animals alike. When hungry, they become wolves and run across the land searching for prey. Once they have eaten their fill, they return to the water and assume their orca forms once more.[3] Wolf tracks leading to or from the ocean are an indicator that the animal may be nearby.[1][2]

Anthropological information Edit

Nelson (The Eskimo About Bering Strait) claims that the creature is called Kăk-whăn'-û-ghăt Kǐg-û-lu'-nǐk, and in orca form it is known as akh'-lut, and in wolf form as kǐg-û-lu’-nǐk.[2] These may be mistranslations or alternate dialects, as the central Yupik romanizations for "orca" and "wolf" are "arrlug" and "kegg'luner" respectively[4]. It's unclear what the word "Kăk-whăn'-û-ghăt" might mean. At any rate, it appears the name these creatures are most well known by is simply a corruption of the Yupik word for "orca".

Gallery Edit

In pop culture Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Rose, Carol. Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth, W.W. Norton & Company (2001). Pg 10-11.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Nelson, Edward William. The Eskimo about Bering Strait, Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology (1900). Pg 444.
  3. Haksteen, John Jacob. Searching for Power, Authorhouse (2012). Pg 25.
  4. Figueiredo, Renato B. "Yupik-English-Yupik online dictionary", Freelang (2017).
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