Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Bygds, Umiaks, Kayaks And An Angakok

The Merman's Children, Book Three, Chapter VI.

In Greenland, the Norse have three settlements:

the Eastern, the Ostri Bygd;
the Mid Bygd;
the Western (really northern), the Vestri Bygd.

Chapter VII
"An umiak was traveling with land to starboard, at the center of a school of kayaks." (p. 156)

(My daughter has had some kayak lessons in the river Lune, after which Lancaster is named: "Lune Castle.")

"The umiak was a big canoe, leather across a framework of whalebone and driftwood, paddled by a score of women. As many kayaks accompanied it, each bearing its man." (p. 157)

These are Inuit. (p. 156) The singular is "...Inuk." (p. 158)

In the umiak:

"The hull was ladend and bloody with a catch of auks." (ibid.)

There is "' angakok...'" (ibid.), described as:

familiar of ghosts and demons
wreaker of harm on enemies -

- and a Norse woman who refers to Markland. (p. 16)

The angakok put a tupilak on one of the Norse settlements - and, since this evening has been spent watching Superman Returns (and see here), there has not been time for any more Poul Anderson research.

Addendum, 16 November 2017: see here.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

One point about "Tupilak" bothers me. I mean, 1300 seems too early for the Norse colony in Greenland to be as poor and wretched as we see it becoming. We KNOW the colony survived till sometime after 1410, so I'm inclined to think that in 1300 matters were not yet so bad for the Norse in Greenland.


Paul Shackley said...

You know a lot more about history than I do!

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Thanks! I was interested enough to both google the Greenland colony and even write to a university professor in Canada about Greenland. Somewhere in my cluttered attic I still have the articles about Greenland he sent me. And 1300 was definitely too soon for the Norse colony there to be as wretched as we see it in THE MERMAN'S CHILDREN.

Regretfully, I have to conclude Poul Anderson made a serious mistake in this part of the book. In fact, I THINK he originally set the first part of the book, "Kraken," in 1400 (not 1300). If the book had been set a century later, then I could well believe the Norse colony in Greenland was in dire shape.