Day and night

In some Inuit legends the Crow and Swallow are said to have given the world light. Prior to this there was no separation of day and night as time did not exist.

A phase of primordial darkness exists in all legends in which the first men lived in darkness until there was light.

In some versions the Hare replaces the Crow as the procurer of the sun and moon for man.

Light came because the Hare wanted it, and his word was stronger than the Fox’s who was afraid of the light as told in a Netsilik legend.

Being herald as a culture-hero the Crow is said to have taught men to build boats, to hunt, and to fish. When his tasks were completed he returned to the sky to form the stars.

In other version he quarrels with the Inuits for killing too much game. Initially he tries exterminating them, and then he takes the sun away from them.

Eventually his elder brothers gets the solar star from the Crow and returns it to man, but when doing this the elder brother is weakened and does not have enough strength to fly back to the sky, so his descents never learn how to remove the crow-masks and must remain mere crows.

(This legendary theme is interesting as it is characteristic of the Finno-Ugrians and Turko-Mongols-namely, a conflict between two brother creators who quarrel over the sun, thwarting each other’s attempts at world organization.) A.G.H.


Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, pp. 441-442