Monday, April 16, 2018

N: Nakk and Nakineiu

Image result for nakk estonia

Welcome to the second half of the A to Z Challenge!

To the Estonians, Nakk was an evil spirit who lived in the deepest part of the water. He could take many animal and human forms, though he was usually thought of as a gray old man who swallowed whatever came his way. Occasionally, he would sit on shore to bewitch people and animals with his songs, which forced them to dance until they fell in the water and drowned.

Nakk had a female counterpart, Nakineiu, a beautiful young woman who sat on a stone combing her long blonde hair. She also sang, and sometimes appeared with a half-human, half-fish body.

Sounds a lot like a mermaid, right? Not too surprising, as mermaid-type creatures appear in folklore from all over the world. They may be known as sirens, naiads, rusalkas, maneli, jengu, iara, oceanids, and many other names. They pop up in hoaxes, such as P.T. Barnum's Fiji Mermaid and Animal Planet's "docu-fiction", and in art, literature, and popular culture, including the iconic Starbuck's logo.

Mermaids may be good, evil, or a bit of both. (Hey, it's complicated being a half-human, half-fish.) And they are enjoying a bit of a moment these days, because why should Disney princesses have all the memes?

Image result for mermaid meme


  1. I've never understood the appeal of mermaids in popular culture. Maybe because their lower half just makes me think of eels as they swish through the water. Even typing that sentence makes me shudder.

    N is for (The) Nobodies Album

  2. I agree that the word "eels" is unsettling for some reason :-)

  3. It's thought fisherman were actually seeing manatee or dugong. I love dugong (I've seen them in the wild), and that's the imagery I get when I think of mermaids.