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Ancient Land, Sacred Whale: The Inuit Hunt and Its Rituals Hardcover – April, 1994

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374104972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374104979
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,729,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British poet and ethnographer Lowenstein has done research among the Tikigaq people of Point Hope, Alaska, for nearly 20 years. For three seasons he served as a crewman in a skinboat during the whale hunt; here he introduces the village, the oldest continuous settlement on the continent, and its topography. From the storyteller Asatchaq, Lowenstein heard about the whale myth and the elaborate rituals of the hunt, which he retells in poems in these pages. According to the myth, the Tikigaq peninsula was once a whale-like creature; after it was killed by a harpooner, it lived on as both body and spirit and remains a source of sustenance and the focus of worship. The rituals for the hunt still constitute an extended drama that begins in autumn and culminates with the springtime hunt. In a lengthy narrative poem, Lowenstein reconstructs the hunt as it occurred prior to contact with Europeans. This vivid portrait of an ancient culture is a remarkable blend of poetry and anthropology. Illustrations.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is a wonderful little book about the annual whale hunt of the Tikigaq people of northern Alaska's Point Hope, the oldest continuously settled Native American site on the continent. The first part includes an elegant description of ritual and mythology associated with the whale hunt. The second part describes the whale cult and the hunt in terms of the annual cycle, hunting patterns, and thought systems. Following is narrative poetry of the hunt, an effective attempt to reproduce the Tikigaq storytelling medium. The book is based both on personal fieldwork conducted by the author during the 1970s and the notes of Froelich Rainey, an archaeologist who worked in the area during the 1940s. Recommended for academic and public libraries.
- John M. Weeks, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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