Inuit Legend of The Undead Qivitoqs

Greenland is a mysterious land mainly covered in ice and not much is green. During prehistoric times the early Paleo-Eskimo  2500 BC – 800 BC lived there. Southern and Western Greenland was inhabited by the Saqqaq culture. The early Saqqaq artifacts were found at Disko Bay located on the western side of Greenland. Surprisingly Greenland is the largest island in the world!


Around 800 BC, the Saqqaq culture disappeared and the Early Dorset culture emerged in western Greenland and the Independence II culture in northern Greenland. The Dorset culture was the first culture to extend throughout Greenland’s coastal areas, both on the west and east coasts. It lasted until the total onset of the Thule culture in 1500 AD. The Dorset culture population lived primarily from hunting of whales and caribou. They were a peaceful people. In 986 Icelanders and Norwegians settled the west coast convinced by Erik the Red that Greenland had better farm land than Iceland.

Today they’re the Kalaallit, an Inuit people, whose ancestors were the Thule people.

The Kalaallit have their own Folktales some can be very creepy such as Qivitoqs.


Qivitoq Illustration credit to

Qivitoqs are half dead, half-alive folks much like Zombies that have crept up from the middle earth. They have super human strength and wander the countryside at twilight. Legend has it they were regular people exiled by the villagers, some were abused and chose to live in solitude. The strongest Qivitoqs are frenzied killers that roam to different villages at night to murder people that may have exiled them in the first instant. There are accounts of folks that site Qivitoqs footprints in the snow around  their outlying home, knowing that the prints were not made by any of their own family.


                    Above Photo of a Tupilak, used to stay Qivitoqs.


Solution to ward off Qivitoqs is to purchase a Tupilak carving made by a Shaman.

A Tupilak  originally an ancestor spirit was an avenging creature crafted by the village shaman using different objects such as animal parts (bone, skin, hair, sinew, etc.) and even parts taken from the corpses of children. The creature was given life by ritualistic chants. It was then placed into the sea to seek and destroy a specific enemy.


Above photo Inuit carving of a Tupilak

Other interesting Inuit legends is of some of the early Vikings that came over from Iceland to Greenland they simply disappeared one day and were never found. The Inuit tales speak of a middle earth that the Vikings wandered into dark caves and never returned leaving everything behind at their camp.



Sources & References:


*The Fate of Greenland’s Vikings, by Dale Mackenzie Brown, Archaeological Institute of America, 28 February 2000

*Photos and Illustrations in Public Domain


Author: Nifty Buckles

Nifty Buckles folklore writer shares Folklore from around the World

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