Akhlut

April 17, 2018

In the folklore of the Inuit Yup’ik people, A kak-whan-u-ghat kig-u-lu-nik, generally anglicized as Akhlut, is a vicious orca whale with the ability of therianthropy (i.e., metamorphosing into other animals by means of shapeshifting but without changing the fundamental nature of its being).

 

So, when prey in the ocean is scarce, this creature changes from an orca into a wolf  and hunts on land.

These creatures inhabit along the coastlines of the Bering Strait, where packed ice constantly breaks off and floats away. In it’s wolf shape, Akhlut’s tracks can be differentiated from other wolf tracks because the paw prints it leaves in the snow lead directly into the water’s edge, and then disappear, as if a wolf came out of—or went back into—the sea.

 

The full name the Yup’ik gave this creature A kak-whan-u-ghat kig-u-lu-nik is the literal description of its abilities: an orca (akh-lut) that changes shape to become a wolf (kig-u-lu-nik).

 

 

Interestingly, in ancient times, Akhlut seldom came on land, but after whales and seal were hunted near extinction, it was forced to search for other preys, and soon land animals, particularly humans, became one of its favorite preys.

 

Akhlut are typically depicted as halfway through their transformation—whale at one end and wolf at the other.

 

 

References

-Bane, T., 2016. Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore. McFarland

-Abel, E.L., 2009. Death gods: an encyclopedia of the rulers, evil spirits, and geographies of the dead. ABC-CLIO

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