wulver
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The wulver or wullver is a kind of
wolf The wolf (''Canis lupus''), also known as the gray wolf or grey wolf, is a large canine Canine may refer to: Zoology * dog-like mammals (i.e. members of the canid subfamily Caninae) ** ''Canis'', a genus including dogs, wolves, coyotes, a ...

wolf
-like
humanoid A humanoid (; from English ''human'' and ''-oid In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the Stem (linguistics), stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns, adjectives, an ...

humanoid
creature in the
folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...

folklore
of the
Shetland Islands Shetland ( on, Hjaltland; sco, Shetland; nrn, Hjetland), also called the Shetland Islands and formerly Zetland, is a subarctic archipelago in the Northern Atlantic, between Great Britain, the Faroe Islands and Norway. It is the northernmos ...
of Scotland. In modern times, the origin of the wulver has been disputed.


History

The wulver is said by the Shetland folklorist Jessie Saxby to be benevolent, although later accounts state that they became violent if provoked. They were generally friendly to locals, however, and were known to share the fish they caught with them. They were usually described as looking like furry people with the head of a wolf. Some accounts claim they were never human to begin with. Saxby, in ''Shetland Traditional Lore'' writes:In previous publications, Saxby spelled the word as "wullver."


Interpretations

After researching folklore traditions gathered primarily from
Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Whe ...
areas of Scotland, an authority on congenital disorders, Susan Schoon Eberly, has speculated that the tale of the wulver may have its basis in humans suffering a medical condition; possibly
Hunter syndrome Hunter syndrome, or mucopolysaccharidosis Mucopolysaccharidoses are a group of metabolic disorder A metabolic disorder is a disorder that negatively alters the body's processing and distribution of macronutrients such as proteins, fats, and ...
, she suggests. This theoretical basis of wulver lore has been criticised as not useful, or, especially, reliable, particularly given a lack of any surviving detailed description of the wulver; the malleable and shifting nature of oral traditions; and the existence of other, analogous, mythological creatures in many folklore traditions (suggesting that tales of such creatures are likely to spontaneously arise in many places). Others, such as Brian Smith, argue that the ''wulver'' is an entirely fictitious creation that was never part of Shetland folklore, contending the creature is solely the creation of Saxby. The proponents of this view argue that Saxby, whether intentionally or in error, misinterpreted the meaning of a name in her sources. In this interpretation,
Jakob Jakobsen Dr. Jakob Jakobsen (22 February 1864 — 15 August 1918) was a Faroese linguist and scholar. The first Faroe Islander to earn a doctoral degree, his thesis on the Norn language of Shetland was a major contribution to its historical preservation. ...
and John Spence had mentioned a hill called ''Wulvers Hool'' in their writings, stating that it was named after a
fairy A fairy (also ''fay'', ''fae'', ''fey'', ''fair folk'', or ''faerie'') is a type of mythical Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions com ...

fairy
. Saxby, not understanding that the word ''wulver'' was derived from an old Norse word for ''fairy'', accidentally created the wulver as Shetland folklore, writing about it as if belief in such a creature had always existed.


References

{{Scottish mythology Scottish mythology Werewolves Scottish legendary creatures Shetland culture