Sedna, Goddess of the Sea
See Keith Plummer’s work in Vol. V #1
Bone, copper sculpture
6″ x 18″ x 4″
Legend of Sedna, Goddess of the Sea
Sedna is an Inuit legend about a sea goddess who becomes the mother of all sea creatures. According to the legend, Sedna lived on the Arctic with her parents. Her father was a hunter and kept the family well-fed and clothed. Sedna, content with her life, was reluctant to leave her parents, and she put off marrying as long as possible. She finally agreed to marry a man she thought would be a good hunter like her father. The couple moved away to a distant island. Soon after their marriage, her husband revealed he was not really a man but a bird posing as a man. Sedna realized she had been tricked and that her hopes for being well fed and kept warm were nil. She feared she was doomed to eat only fish and freeze to death with no furs to keep her warm.
Upon hearing of her situation, her father came to the island and killed Sedna’s husband. As they were leaving the island, birds from all around began to avenge the bird man’s death by forming a giant wind with their wings. When Sedna and her father set out, their kayak began to tip violently in the wind. Sedna’s father decided to throw Sedna overboard in hopes that he might save himself. But Sedna kept ahold of the boat by the tips of her fingers. Her father took out a knife and cut each one of Sedna’s fingers off. She sank helplessly to the bottom of the ocean floor where she remained a powerful spirit controlling all the animals of the sea.
Each of Sedna’s fingers became a different creature of the sea: fish, seals, walruses, and whales. Sedna was said to have the head and torso of a woman and the body of a fish. Inuit hunters were known to call upon Sedna whenever seeking a prosperous hunt. To appease the goddess, a Shaman would transform himself into a fish and swim to the bottom of the sea where he would comb the tangles from her hair. This made Sedna happy and ensured an abundance of sea creatures for the hunt.
Text courtesy of Anne Plummer