Arnaktartoq: The Man Who was Reborn in all the Animals

“There was once a great shaman who wanted to see what it was like to live the life of all animals, so he let himself be reborn in all kinds of animals. For a time he was a bear; that was a tiring life Then he became a fjord seal; they are ever full of merry jests Once the shaman was a wolf, but then he almost starved to death until one of the wolves took compassion on him. This took place in times long ago, when animals often were humans, so we believe that there has been a time when there was not much difference between an animal’s soul and a human’s soul. All living things were very much alike.”

Many versions of the story about The Man Who was Reborn in all the Animals are told throughout the arctic. These stories are full of insights about animals, and reflect Inuit beliefs regarding the soul and the relationship between animals and humans. This beautiful version was recounted by Qaqortingneq of the Netsilik tribe from the Canadian arctic to the Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen in the 1920s. The stories in this version were selected because they are suitable for almost any age, from age 4 to adults. It is printed as an accordion book, so that readers can either flip the pages and read every twofold separately, or spread the whole story out into one long illustration that depicts the journey of reincarnation. On the other side of the accordion is a board game based on the year cycle of the Netsilik tribe as experienced from the perspective of a child, as well as information regarding the Inuit, the animals in the story and the story’s origin, and cutout figures for young readers to play with.

2019 | Hardcover accordion book | 28 pp.| English translation available | Rights Sold: Hebrew

Knud Rasmussen was a Greenlandic Danish polar explorer and anthropologist. He has been called the “father of Eskimology” and was the first European to cross the Northwest Passage via dog sled. He remains well known in Greenland, Denmark and among Canadian Inuit. The version before you was recounted by Qaqortingneq of the Netsilik tribe by Knud Rasmussen in the 1920s.

Orianne Shavit is an Israeli painter, illustrator designer and doll maker. Her technique is diverse and changes according to each project, working mainly by hand. She illustrates both for adult and children books following her fascination for cultures, nature and remote sceneries. In her work she often combines symbolic, botanical and native motifs.