Here’s the story of Sermerssuaq as I first found it:
Sermerssuaq was so powerful that she could lift a kayak on the tips of three fingers. She could kill a seal merely by drumming on its head with her fists. She could rip asunder a fox or hare. Once she arm-wrestled with Qasordlanguaq, another powerful woman, and beat her so easily that she said: Poor Qasordlanguaq could not even beat one of her own lice at arm-wrestling. Most men she could beat and then she would tell them: Where were you when the testicles were given out?
Pretty badass, right? What I didn’t know is that description left out the end of the story, which is kind of important.
Most men she could beat and then she would tell them: Where were you when the testicles were given out?
Sometimes this Sermerssuaq would show off her clitoris. It was so big that the skin of a fox would not easily cover it. Aja, and she was the mother of nine children too!
…at which point I had some questions.
I flipped to the back of the book, searching for more info – because, holy citation needed, Batman. At which point I came across this note:
“Told as a joke at a birthday party, Innuit Point, Northwest Territories.”
Which left me with SO MANY MORE QUESTIONS.
So I tracked down the author and emailed him about it, asking about the cultural context surrounding it (were they screwing around with the white guy?). He replied:
The story may have had some distribution as a joke, but it’s definitely not an official folk tale. On the other hand, it has many of the same motifs that folk tales have, so I included it in the book. Inuit folktales make dada and surrealism seem altogether unimaginative.
…and man, he wasn’t kidding. Here’s another story from the book, in its entirety:
Namik lacked all wisdom. He went out to hunt during a plague of shooting stars. The stars dripped down on him just a little. But this was enough to transform poor Namik into a greyish patch of lichen forever.
Moral: Remain indoors or the star shit will get you.
I’m not kidding. I was so blown away by the sheer weirdness of Inuit folk tales that I took pictures of some of the weirder stories (in one case, the weirdest story) and posted them up, because HOW COULD I NOT.
So, yes – let this entry serve as an outpost for the “too offbeat” section of the site. Remember, if women can do anything, they can certainly be weird.
- Since her story is so over-the-top macho (clit-waving instead of dick-waving!), I decided to model the image after classic Frank Frazetta art. Except instead of a lusty Martian princess wrapped around her leg, she has a baby seal, because that’s hysterical.
- The lice in the front are arm-wrestling with two arms each, because I think that’s great.
- I was going to draw a crowd shocked by her martial prowess, along with her nine children, but I need to preserve my sanity in the workload for this and for the book.
- Lastly, I found this image of an Inuit archer woman in my research, which instantly made me desire a far-north Assassin’s Creed game. [update: this image isn’t authentic, but I found a lot more rad stuff that is]
Next Time on Rejected Princesses
Depending on who you ask, this Pakeha pirate was either a vicious thug or a protective mother. Maybe both.