By J. Richardson
The legend of Ijiraq is one of the many stories that came from Inuit culture and mythology. In Noel K. McDermott’s dissertation, titled Unikkaaqtuat: Traditional Inuit Stories, Inuit elders tell stories told to them as children about monsters like Ijiraq, Amajurjuit, and Ulikappaalit. These stories were to teach children morals and how to behave.
Ijiraq is a shape-shifting monster. It can take the shape of any beast. Most of the time it appears as a caribou from the waist up with human legs. Whatever shape it takes, it always has red, vertical eyes and a vertical mouth. Ijiraq is said to kidnap children and wipe the memories of those who encounter the monster.
|Ijiraqu Sculpture by Rachel Young, 2019
According to Morgan Bentham, there are different interpretations of the story of Ijiraq but one thing remains the same: when people encounter him, they either go missing or forget their interactions with it. If someone does encounter the monster, they should quickly tell someone else of their interactions because their memory will soon fade away. It’s believed that Ijiraq came about when Inuit people went hunting too far north and got trapped between two worlds: the world of the living and of the dead. When in our world, it lives in a cursed forest in Freeman’s Cove, Canada. Ijiraq is believed to have been sighted here. Bentham tells the story of a hunter named Buott. Boutt was hunting in Freeman’s Cove, an area he was very familiar with. While hunting, he became very disoriented and lost his way back to his camp site. Boutt believed he encountered Ijiraq because Ijiraq is known to disorient and wipe the memory of people who come close to him.
There is not a true explanation of Ijiraq’s existence and origin. Bentham says that Ijiraq are lost Inuit hunters. Inuit people have different variations of the legend of Ijiraq. The most scientific explanation has to deal with the landscape of where Ijiraq is traditionally associated with. According to Megan Roberts of Atlas Obscura, deposits of toxic sour gas, sulphur smoke, and geothermal activity in the area might create a rising vapor that is capable of causing disorientation and hallucinations.
Bentham, Morgan. "Ijiraq." Leap into the Void with Me, 9 Apr. 2016, https://leapintothevoidwithme.wordpress.com.
McDermott, Noel K. Unikkaaqtuat: Traditional Inuit Stories. Dissertation, Queen’s University, 2015.
Roberts, Megan. Bastards of the Bestiary: Eight Mythological Creatures Too Gross, Sad, or Monstrous to Be Loved. Atlas Obscura, 4 Mar. 2014.
Young, Rachel [@blackrabbitscuplture]. Ijiraq Sculpture. 27 Sep. 2019, Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/blackrabbitsculpture/?hl=en
Links for further research:
“Unikkaaqtuat: Traditional Inuit Stories.”
Author Noel K. McDermott gives information of the Inuit people and their traditions. He also interviews Inuit people as they tell stories of their childhood and the stories they were told about Ijiraat and other beings
This wiki page gives detailed information of Ijiraq including its appearance, origin, behavior, and abilities.
“Who are the Ijiraq? Shapeshifters in Inuit Mythology”
This article gives details of ijiraq such appearance and abilities. Inuit culture and mythology is also discussed.