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The Eskimo of Siberia, by Waldemar Bogoras, [1913], at

p. 418 p. 419


1. The Dead Bride.

   There lived a man in the land of Ku´ñe, right opposite the island Ima´lik (one of the Diomede Islands). One day he was going to perform the thanksgiving ceremonial, because he was a good sea-hunter, had killed many whales, and fed all his neighbors. So he prepared everything in his house.

   He placed the tips of whale-flippers upon a skin. Then all at once a thong-seal jumped out of the water-hole upon the ice. The village stood high up on the cape, and people were walking along the shore on either side of it. That man had on neither cap nor belt, because he was changing his clothes for the ceremonial. He rushed down to the water-hole just as he stood.

   When he was quite close, the thong-seal plunged into the hole, and in a few moments jumped out of another hole. This was one of its breathing-holes. The man pursued it. The thong-seal turned to still another hole, and plunged down. The man stood close by the hole, watching for it to come up. When he looked down into the water, he saw a woman's face, — the face of a daughter of an American Eskimo. Her father was a rich trader. She had died, and had been carried away to the funeral-place. After the funeral, she had left her grave to get a husband.

   While the man of Ku´ñe was standing there, the woman approached the surface. Her long tresses were floating on the water. She shook off the water, then she caught the man and carried him away to her own land. When they came to the shore, he saw a large house; but, on looking with closer attention, he ascertained that it was only a wooden lodge for the dead, like those the people of the other shore construct. In the lodge lay a corpse. He felt much afraid. Unexpectedly the corpse sat up and drew a deep sigh. "Oh, oh, oh! I slept too long, I feel quite benumbed." It was the corpse of a woman. She stretched her arms and legs and shoulders, making the joints click in order to regain their suppleness. "Now let us go to my father!" said she.

   They did so. Her father was arranging a religious ceremonial. They stood in the rear of the house. The house was full of shamans. They performed various acts of magic. Some were calling the Upper Gods; others, to´ṛnaṛaks and the deceased; still others were calling the sea-gods. Thus they were calling, — one this being, one that.

   A young shaman, though having no "living voices," 1 still a very great

p. 420 shaman, was sitting there silent. The old man asked him to practise also. "I am grieving deeply for my dead daughter. You must sing and cheer me up." — "I cannot sing, I have no voices, I know no songs." — "That is all right. Sing some other man's songs." — "Well, then, I will try." He began to sing, "I am practising shamanistic art within the house, while the others are practising too. I am practising within the house."

   "There," he said, "I see her standing in the rear of the house. But this one, the man of Ku´ñe, why does he stand close to her?" Thus, being a great shaman, he saw them. Oh, the father felt much joy! He said, "I will give you triple payment. One shall be the boat; another, the harpoon-line; the third, the harpoon, — three payments of great value." — "All right!" Then the dead bride said to her future husband, "Let us climb to the roof of the house! Otherwise he will catch us." They climbed to the roof; and the young shaman sang again, "I practise within the house, while the others are practising too. I practise within the house. Whoop!" He drew a deep breath, and with it he drew them into the house. He stretched the skirt of his coat and caught them in it. "Here they are!" The father was much pleased. He kissed his daughter and greeted his son-in-law. They passed a winter there. The next summer they returned in a boat to the land of Ku´ñe.

Told by Ñịpe´wġi, an Asiatic Eskimo man, in the village of Uñi´sak, at Indian Point, May, 1901.


419:1 Ventriloquistic ability.

Next: 2. The Carrier of Seaweed.