Black & white print of my original graphite drawing ‘Sedna’ which is my interpretation of an old Inuit folktale about the sea goddess Sedna.
There are many versions of the tale, but usually it follows some version of the following: Sedna was a beautiful Inuit maiden whom every man tried to woo, but she refused to marry. At last, she was won over by a man who promised he was a great hunter. He took her away to a far off island, where he revealed himself in fact to be a raven (in some versions a seagull), not a man at all. Sedna was very unhappy. Somehow, word of Sedna’s fate reached her father and he went to rescue her.
He sailed out to the far away island to save his daughter, but as they were making their escape, Sedna’s bird-husband chased after them with a swarm of other birds and attacked them. Desperate to save himself, Sedna’s father threw her overboard. She clung to the side of the boat for dear life, but in a panic, her father hacked away at her hands with his oar until he eventually cut off her fingers and hands and arms and she slipped to the bottom of the cold, dark sea. Her fingers became the fish, her hands became larger animals like seals and her arms the whales.
It is said that she lives at the bottom of the sea and controls the food supply of the Inuit people (who live mainly on meat from the animals in and around the sea). When she is frustrated (because she cannot groom herself without her arms), she withholds food from the people above and they must send a shaman to swim down to her and comb her hair for her, until she is happy again and allows the animals to swim to the surface so that they can be hunted for food.