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AinuBearSacrificeCirca1870
The Ainu Iomante ceremony (bear sending). Japanese scroll painting, circa 1870.

Bear worship (also known as the Bear Cult or Arctolatry) is the religious practice of the worshiping of bears. Many North American and North Eurasian ethnic arctic religions include the worship of bears in their beliefs. These include the Sami, Nivkhs, Ainu, and pre-Christian Finns.

There are also a number of deities from Celtic Gaul and Britain similar to the bear. The bear is also featured on many totems throughout northern cultures that carve them. Bear worship may have been practiced as far back as the Middle Palaeolithic time period amongst Neanderthal societies.(Wunn, 2000, p. 434-435)

  • Blesoe, Brandon (retrieved Nov. 2007) "The Significance of the Bear Ritual Among the Sami and Other Northern Cultures"
  • Chaussonnet, Valerie (1995) Native Cultures of Alaska and Siberia. Artic Studies Center. Washington, D.C. 112p. ISBN: 1560986611
  • Gall, Timothy L. (1998) Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life:Nivkhs. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Inc. 2100p. ISBN: 0787605522
  • Shternberg, Lev Iakovlevich and Bruce Grant. (1999) The Social Organization of the Gilyak. New York: American Museum of Natural History. Seattle: University of Washington Press 280p. ISBN: 029597799X
  • Wunn, Ina (2000). "Beginning of Religion", Numen, 47(4).

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