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Thursday, January 19, 2006

 

Legendary Felines: Missipeshu, Mishi Peshu or Mishipashoo


Underwater cat? I'm trying to imagine myself underwater, like the great panther of Ojibwe lore: Missipeshu, Mishi Peshu or Mishipashoo.

Missipeshu lives in Lake Superior and embodies the power of that great lake. Storms come up quickly on Lake Superior, and an inattentive human can easily be caught in Missipeshu’s powerful claws. Ojibwe people offered tobacco and prayer to Missipeshu before they ventured out onto the waters in their canoes.

Cats, as we know, are famous for their ability to inspire artistic endeavors. Missipeshu has inspired artists for centuries. A spectacular image of Missipeshu can be seen on a rock in Agawa Bay, Lake Superior National Park, in northern Ontario, north of Sault Ste. Marie. Norval Morriseau, an accomplished Canadian Ojibwe artist, depicted Missipeshu in his magical transformation paintings.

Missipeshu is more than a simple cat. His back is spiked like a dinosaur's. His face is like a lynx or panther, while his body resembles a sea serpent. Despite his terrifying appearance, Missipeshu is not evil. The idea that he is an evil spirit seems to have come from Christian missionaries, who likened this horned “monster” to Satan.

Thanks to amanuensis' friend Judith Niemi for pointing out the stories and pictures of Missipeshu. May the great cat protect all of us in our journeys.

Tags: cats folklore
catymology

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2 Old Comments:

Aloysius is a Birman? He looks a lot like our Ragdolls, but then they do have some Birman in the history of the breed. Lady Wilhelmenia (Willow) needs a friend. I'll get her in here to see this piece. Who knows? :)

By Blogger srp, at 9:54 AM  

Well, the Birman part is feline folklore, as I don't have any papers. Amanuensis thinks I look like a Birman, so who am I to disagree?

Ragdoll cats are cool!

Purrs to Lady Wilhelmenia.

By Blogger Aloysius, at 11:30 AM  

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