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The Kalevala, Finnish mythology and folklore, and Tolkien references (Part 13)
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Sep 21, 10:40pm

Post #1 of 34 (2844 views)
The Kalevala, Finnish mythology and folklore, and Tolkien references (Part 13) Can't Post

This is about Finland's national epic, Kalevala - comprised from ancient folk poetry by Elias Lönnrot - and related topics. For anyone new to the threads, and any who may have missed the previous thread's last post(s), it is recommended that you have a look at the links below.

Everything in italics is taken straight from the Kalevala translation by J. M. Crawford (1887), as well as everything in quotes in the middle of a non-rhyming body of text (i.e. parts of the poems I have "opened" to be read as normal text).

On a recent trip to the library I found a book titled Kalevala suomeksi, "Kalevala in Finnish". Of course the title is ironic, as the book and the poems that it was comprised of have always been in Finnish. But it illuminates the fact that the language used in it is so archaic, the vocabulary so ancient, and the metre so far removed from modern Finnish, that many Finns find the original epic too arduous a reading experience and give up immediately after the obligatory, introductory efforts at school. The book in question has the poems written in modern language (at the cost of the Kalevala metre), but the interesting thing is that after the poems there is a section titled "In aid of interpretation" that includes explanations and supplemental bits of information regarding the poems, as well as some comparisons between the Kalevala and other epics/mythologies of Europe (or maybe the world - I have not checked it through yet) - like a more sophisticated and academic version of the simpler "Notes" at the end of some posts of mine. And I also found two other books with analysis and commentary on the Kalevala and associated myths and folk poetry.

Because I know there are some people who have read these threads and are interested in the poems & what is behind them (thank you Smile) I'm going to post some of those comments here and include links to the earlier posts for those poems we have already been through, until I (hopefully!) catch up with the current poems. So this thread is going to be Kalevala-heavy, in compensation for the last one that was anything but. All comments and questions welcome here or in PMs!

*** = Interludes = posts about folklore, mythology, language, traditions etc.

Part 1
Introduction - Kalevala, the heart of Finnish mythology
Tolkien and Finnish Influences
Creation Myth: World Born out of Eggshell Shards
Väinämöinen - Birth of Humanity & Pellervo - God of Fertility and Plants
The World-Tree, Sea Monster, and a Surprise Giant Clad in Copper
Barley Sowing, Slash-and-Burn, and the Gratitude of Eagle & Cuckoo

Part 2
Väinämöinen vs. Joukahainen: the Magical Battle of the Bards - War of Wizard Sayings
The Fate of Aino, Pohjola's Fair Maiden
Väinämöinen's Lamentation and the Spirit Salmon
Unhorsed by an Adversary, Saved by the Eagle, Trading with the Mistress of the Northland

Part 3
Challenges by Maiden on the Rainbow - and an Axe Accident
Origin of Iron - and the Blacksmith Ilmarinen
Healing of Väinämöinen
How the Blacksmith Ilmarinen was Tricked and Flown by a Giant Fir Tree

Part 4
*** "Midsummer Night's Dream" - magic and pagan traditions in the light of the Midnight Sun
(Midsummer Eve photos)
Forging of the Sampo, the Magical Mill - Horn of Plenty
Notes: The meaning and symbolism of Sampo - possible theories and connections
The handsome Lemminkäinen and the beautiful Kyllikki

Part 5
***Kekri - the ancient harvest festival and time of spirits that was almost forgotten in time
Broken Vows, Evil Portents, and an Ostentation of Wizardly Powers
*** Ghost stories, the restless dead, and witches
Skiing After the Magically Made Moose of Hiisi
A Hero's Ordeal: From Moose Quest to Hunt for a Flaming Horse to Trying to Shoot a Swan of Tuoni

Part 6
*** Winter Solstice and the Old Yule
***(Some traditions of Dec 26)
Reclaiming a Hero from the Kingdom of Death

Part 7
*** Traditions for Easter (and the vernal equinox)
Voluntarily Visiting the Underworld Is Not Wise, Even for Mighty Heroes
In the Innards of Talkative Stone Giant - Mighty Mage of MANY Words
Opinion/recommendation for a translation

Part 8
*** Vappu - May Day (Eve) traditions
Kalevala - What's in a name: If you mix up the vocals..
The Rival Suitors, Northward Bound: One by Boat, Another by Sledge
The Final Heroic Deeds of Ilmarinen: Vanquishing Snakes, Beasts of the Underworld, and the Giant Pike of Tuoni

Part 9
Wedding Preparations in the Northland, and the Origin of Beer
How to Properly Greet, Feast and Sing in Honor of a Notable Wedding, and Sadden and Advice the Bride (Iron Age Style)
*** Another Midsummer's Eve :)
The Kalevala translator Crawford's views and opinions about Finns, Finnish, and the Kalevala (1887)
An Unwelcome Guest Meets the Fiery Eagle and the Monstrous Snake of a Hundred Eyes
*** Night of Ancient Fires (Aug 27)

Part 10
*** The Finnish Calendar: Names of the Months - Turning of the Year and Some Old Celebrations (plus notes below)
"I'll See Your Bull and Raise You a Wolf" - a Fateful Fight in the Nortland
*** Viewpoints, features and basics of the ancient Finnish faith
Escapee, Refugee, Paramour, Fugitive and Prodigal Son - Further Roles of Lemminkäinen
*** From the firmament to the underground realm: World View of the Ancient Finns

Part 11
*** Laskiainen - the Finnish version of Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras
Unfortunate Attempt at Conceited Revenge, and the Origin of Frost
*** Godly origins of the heroes of Kalevala - Väinämöinen, Ilmarinen and Joukahainen
(More Kalevala inspired art & illustrations)

Part 12
*** Jyri's Day (April 23)
*** About oral tradition and folklore
*** Happy Midsummer's Eve!
Kullervo's Tale: From Harsh and Cruel Beginnings
The Hapless Shepherd and his Grievous Revenge
From a Wonderful Stroke of Luck to a Dismal Disaster

(Part 12.5 - about Finland & Finnish)
Year of celebration: Independent Finland 100 years
Proverbs, sayings and idioms; About the Finnish language; Language memes and weather memes; "Finnish Nightmares"; Some statistics & Miscellaneous Trivia;
Finnish inventions and other things of Finnish origin; Random weirdness and more trivia
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Sep 21, 11:55pm

Post #2 of 34 (2778 views)
Kullervo's Revenge, Bereavement and Fall [In reply to] Can't Post

Kullervo, the miserable son of misfortune, had killed his cruel hostess - the eternal blacksmith Ilmarinen's wife - and escaped slavery; been reunited with his family
whom he had thought dead,and struggled to find a task suitable for him; met a young maiden and seduced her, only to find out that she was his long-lost sister, who
then threw herself to the rapids. Filled with shame,rage and despair, he started to prepare for a one man's war; he would attack his brutal uncle and foster father, Untamo,
who had raided his family before his birth and made his childhood a horrendous ordeal. As he was grinding his broadsword his mother tried to make him reconsider, since
"Those that war without a reason Will be slaughtered for their folly." But in the ages-old tradition of young warriors eager for combat, he disagreed and told his mother
what a swift and beautiful end it would be to die in battle. In his fervent state of mind, Kullervo had little concern for the well-being of the family he was so relentless to avenge:

"If thou diest in the conflict,
Who will stay to guard thy father,
Who will give thy sire protection?"
These the words of Kullerwoinen:
"Let him die upon the court-yard,
Sleeping out his life of sorrow!"
"Who then will protect thy mother,
Be her shield in times of danger?"
"Let her die within the stable,
Or the cabin where she lingers!"...

As if aware of Kullervo's thoughtless words and offended by them, other members of his family were not distressed to see him leave for war:

"Fare thou well, my aged father!
Wilt thou weep for me, thy hero,
When thou hearest I have perished,
Fallen from thy tribe forever,
Perished on the field of glory?"
Thus the father speaks in answer:
"I shall never mourn the downfall
Of my evil son, Kullervo;
Shall not weep when thou hast perished;
Shall beget a second hero
That will do me better service,
That will think and act in wisdom."
Kullerwoinen gives this answer:
"Neither shall I mourn thy downfall,
Shall not weep when thou hast perished;
I shall make a second father,
Make the head from loam and sandstone,
Make the eyes from swamp-land berries,
Make the beard from withered sea-grass,
Make the feet from roots of willow,
Make the form from birch-wood fungus."

Drawing of the actor, director Teuvo Puro (1884-1956) as Kullervo's father Kalervo in Aleksis Kivi's play "Kullervo" as performed by The Finnish National Theatre in 1934

Kullervo's brother and his remaining sister gave him similar heartless answers. Finally he asked his mother if she would weep for him.

Thus the mother speaks in answer:
"Canst not fathom love maternal,
Canst not smother her affection;
Bitterly I'll mourn thy downfall,
I would weep if thou shouldst perish,
Shouldst thou leave my race forever;
I would weep in court or cabin,
Sprinkle all these fields with tear-drops,
Weep great rivers to the ocean,
Weep to melt the snows of Northland,
Make the hillocks green with weeping,..."

(In the translated version of the poem Kullervo's mother would "Weep at morning, weep at evening, Weep three years in bitter sorrow."
In the original poem she would, when not able to cry among other people anymore, weep in the sauna until the sauna benches were engulfed in waves of tears.)

1-2) "Kullervo Rides to War" (1899-1901), two versions by Akseli Gallen-Kallela; larger HERE and HERE - 3-4) art by Mirja Vänni

Playing his horn and "Shouting loudly on the heather, Singing o'er the hills and mountains" Kullervo rode away from his family's yard. After a short while he
heard news from a messenger: his old father had passed and needed a proper burial. Kullervo was not shaken, simply replying that there was a gelding back
home who could carry his father's body. He rode on into marshlands, and after a while received another message: his brother had also died. He did not care, for
surely the stallion back home would take care of his brother's body. When riding among spruce trees he heard about the passing of his sister; no matter, there
was a mare there to move her to her resting place. Finally, when riding on through long hay, Kullervo learned that his mother had left this world.

"Woe is me, my life hard-fated,
That my mother too has perished,
She that nursed me in my cradle,
Made my couch a golden cover,
Twirled for me the spool and spindle!
Lo! Kullervo was not present
When his mother's life departed;
May have died upon the mountains,
Perished there from cold and hunger.

Lave the dead form of my mother
In the crystal waters flowing;
Wrap her in the robes of ermine,
Tie her hands with silken ribbon,
Take her to the grave of ages,
Lay her in the lap of Kalma.
Bury her with songs of mourning,
Let the singers chant my sorrow;
Cannot leave the fields of battle
While Untamo goes unpunished,
Fell destroyer of my people."

Upon his arrival at Untamola, Kullervo asked the supreme god Ukko to grant him a mighty sword so that he would win and conquer. Ukko, occasionally
amenable to such abrupt requests, fulfilled his wish (in the original poem he simply got a sword, but in the translated poem Ukko lent him his own sword -
maybe Crawford thought that a divine instrument was needed to explain Kullervo's success?):

Thus equipped, the mighty hero
Slew the people of Untamo,
Burned their villages to ashes;
Only left the stones and ovens,
And the chimneys of their hamlets. *)

1) art by Mirja Vänni - 2) by Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1893) - 3) "Destruction of Untamola" by Aarne Karimo (1953) - 4) by Nicolai Kochergin

His dour mission thus accomplished, Kullervo rode back home to find it deserted and silent. "No one came to give him greeting, None to give the hand
of welcome." He put his hands on the oven, but its charcoal was cold; his mother was no longer alive. He put his hand on the sauna stove, but its stones
were cold; his father was no longer alive. He looked around him, but the room had not been cleaned; his sister was no longer alive. He walked outside to
see the shore, but there was no boat there; his brother was no longer alive. Kullervo wept and cried for two days, and on the third he addressed his mother,
asking why she had left him, while knowing she could not hear him no matter what and how he spoke. But then his mother did reply, from under the earth,
in her grave, giving him her final advice:

"Thou has still the dog remaining, **)
He will lead thee to the forest;
Follow thou the faithful watcher,
Let him lead thee to the woodlands,
To the farthest woodland border,
To the caverns of the wood-nymphs;
There the forest maidens linger,
They will give thee food and shelter,
Give my hero joyful greetings."

1) "Remorseful Kullervo" haunted by his family's spirits, by Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1918) - 2) Kullervo sketch by Nicolai Kochergin - 3) gypsum plaster statue by C. E. Sjöstrand

For once Kullervo took his mother's advice and, together with the faithful Musti, walked into the forest. But after a short walk he happened upon a dreadful place;
there, by the path, had he unknowingly debauched his own sister. #) The earth itself had not forgotten: "Finds the turf itself is weeping, Finds the glen-wood filled
with sorrow, Finds the heather shedding tear-drops, Weeping are the meadow-flowers, O'er the ruin of his sister." No fresh grass grew, no heather bloomed on the
accursed place.

Kullervo's mind darkened, and he grasped the handle of his sword. Turning the blade in his hands he asked it a simple question; would the sword like to eat guilty flesh,
to drink faulty blood? The sword took a moment to consider, then replied:

[Translation by Crawford]
"Why should I not drink thy life-blood,
Blood of guilty Kullerwoinen,
Since I feast upon the worthy,
Drink the life-blood of the righteous?"

[My verbatim attempt of the original, impersonal reply]
"Why should I not eat with pleasure,
Eat the flesh that is found guilty?
For I do feast on the non-guilty,
Drink the life-blood of innocents."

Kullervo, son of Kalervo, thrust the hilt of his sword to the ground and turned the sharp point toward his chest - then "throws his weight upon his broadsword," impaling himself.
That was the end of the young man Kullervo, born and raised in adversity and misery. ##)

1) "Kullervo Talking to His Sword" by C. E. Sjöstrand (1868) - 2-3) art by Louis Sparre (1891)


There is a saying in use in Finnish: lähteä soitellen sotaan, lit. "to go to war playing music", that originally comes from this poem in the Kalevala. I found a ready-made definition for it in the Wiktionary: "To bring a knife to a gunfight (to enter into a confrontation or other challenging situation without being adequately equipped or prepared)." Although Kullervo was victorious here, there are other version of these poems with a different ending (mentioned in an upcoming "further notes" post).

*) In the original poem, Kullervo burned everything but "stones and ovens, and tall rowans on the yard" - a subtle indication of the significance of trees in the old Finnish faith: trees, especially rowans, were to be left untouched no matter where they grew.

**) Interestingly, Crawford gave names to some characters who lack them in the original poem (like naming the blind shepherd "Nasshut" (?!?), or mistaking "Untamola" for Kullervo's mother's name), while ignoring some names that are actually mentioned in the Kalevala because he must have thought them irrelevant. In the original poem Kullervo's mother talks about "Musti, the dog"; Tolkien included this name in his version of the tale.

#) While the translated poem identifies the place as one "Where he met his long-lost sister", the original uses words like "ruin" and "deprave", indicating the scene of the act itself. An unexplained change of the seasons becomes apparent on the same lines; although Kullervo traveled through the snow by sleigh while meeting his sister and then almost immediately rode off to battle, now it seems to be spring or even summer as the barren ground is so clearly distinguishable from its surroundings.

##) I know I mentioned this a time or two in the notes of the first "Kullervo posts" (thread no 12), but still I find it surprising and a little odd that Crawford chose the tone he did when translating the tale of Kullervo. The lines I wrote above, "opened" from the original verses, in all their simplicity are as close to the original as I could make them and in keeping with the neutral, matter-of-fact manner of stating what happened to the anti-hero, without further dramatization or judgment. Crawford wrote the same lines as follows (emphasis mine):
Thereupon the youth, Kullervo,
Wicked wizard of the Northland,
Lifts the mighty sword of Ukko,
Bids adieu to earth and heaven;
Firmly thrusts the hilt in heather,
To his heart he points the weapon,
Throws his weight upon his broadsword,
Pouring out his wicked life-blood,
Ere be journeys to Manala.
Thus the wizard finds destruction,
This the end of Kullerwoinen,
Born in sin, and nursed in folly.
Kullervo was not "of the Northland", nor a wizard, and never labeled "wicked" in the original poems. He was born from a wedded mother who had been taken captive by her husband's brother. Admittedly, "nursed in folly" presumably refers to the cruel parenting by her uncle's family, including several attempts to kill him while still a child. It seems to me that, for some reason, Crawford aspired to emphasize (or even justify?) Kullervo's tragedy by making him congenitally evil. Personally I find these poems all the more tragic as expressed in their untranslated form, making the listener (as this was oral folklore for centuries) aware how Kullervo might have had potential for a better life, but was irreparably embittered and tainted by his circumstances and upbringing. From this viewpoint it becomes possible to understand where he is coming from and, on occasion, even empathize with him. By contrast, Crawford's version of Kullervo attempts to make him seem so malevolent that the listener-reader may even be expected to feel righteous and relieved about his ruin and suicide.


In the Kalevala, the story of Kullervo includes these lines:

Wainamoinen, ancient minstrel,
As he hears the joyful tidings,
Learns the death of fell Kullervo,
Speaks these words of ancient wisdom:
"O, ye many unborn nations,
Never evil nurse your children,
Never give them out to strangers,
Never trust them to the foolish!
If the child is not well nurtured,
Is not rocked and led uprightly,
Though he grow to years of manhood,
Bear a strong and shapely body,
He will never know discretion,
Never eat the bread of honor,
Never drink the cup of wisdom."

In the original poem, Väinämöinen does not mention the translation's poetic bread of honor, cup of wisdom - instead he says "cannot comprehend, will never have a man's [adult's] mind". But all this pedagogical advice, given voice by the old sage, was not present in the old poems sung by runesingers; it was added by Elias Lönnrot while compiling the Kalevala, as he apparently felt the need to emphasize the story's moral aspects.


The unwavering depth and endurance of maternal love Heart is one of the repeating themes that keep resounding from poem to poem throughout the Kalevala. Whether it's Joukahainen, Lemminkäinen (and here again and once more and yet again), or Kullervo, no matter their folly or misdeeds, their mothers desperately try to keep them from leaving to battle or taking perilous risks. Lemminkäinen's mother also told her son about a safe place to escape from his pursuers far away from her, after having already lost him once and, after his murder in the hands of a vengeful shepherd, traveled to the Underworld to collect the pieces of her son and put him back together. Aino's mother, after having pressured her daughter to marry Väinämöinen, was distraught and wept in bitter remorse all her old days after her daughter had drowned (arguably by suicide). As Crawford mentioned (quoted in this post), "It is more especially the love of the mother for her children, and the love of the children for their mother, that find frequent and ever-tender expression in the sonorous lines of the Kalevala."

(This post was edited by Silverlode on Oct 4, 9:58pm)
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Sep 22, 3:01pm

Post #3 of 34 (2763 views)
I found a copy of the Kalevala this weekend [In reply to] Can't Post

I intend to read it with your notes (I've copied many of them into a document). Thank you for being such a wonderful resource for this!

And then I need to re-read Joan Vinge's "Snow Queen" trilogy, which has a lot of Kalevala references, to see how much of her story is rooted in that source.

I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the words begin to move around … The words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young.

-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Sep 22, 8:40pm

Post #4 of 34 (2749 views)
Thank you! :) [In reply to] Can't Post

What a coincidence that you found the Kalevala copy this weekend when I finally got around to posting a new thread. I'm so happy to see you here and hear that these posts are still worth reading, although it's been MUCH longer than I intended between new threads (real life gets in the way), and I'm honored to hear that you have kept some of my notes for reference. Blush I hope you continue to find the posts interesting! I will try to get the threads moving at a better pace, and will continue with the mythology-themed interludes as well.

(As far as the source materials for interludes go, I have a positive problem: I keep finding new books and other writings, more and more details and old stories and concepts and tidbits, and have a hard time Tongue sorting through all that and deciding what to include, when I would like to put "everything" here. But that would be a fulltime job in itself for quite some time! But if it so happens that something I write about in interludes/notes is especially interesting to you - or anyone else reading this - please tell me so I can dive a little deeper with that particular topic and see what I left out, or what more I can find. Future interludes will be less about annual traditions, and more about mythical peoples and the ancient faith.)

And thank you for the reminder re: Joan Vinge's books, which i still have not tracked down - not for lack of interest but for lack of time - and it seems that they are not available in the libraries here. Must try my luck with Internet sources, like I have done with some other paperbacks. Smile


Sep 22, 9:00pm

Post #5 of 34 (2744 views)
Further commentary, background and analysis for the story of Kullervo [In reply to] Can't Post

(...As explained in the books I recently found, i.e. not my own observations.)

The story of Kullervo is a Finnish tragedy. As such, it is not found as one complete tale in any poem or rune, but was compiled and combined by Elias Lönnrot from elements and plot twists found in a few individual folk poems. Poems that contain elements found in Kullervo's story
- such as the feud between bothers Kalervo and Untamo, Kalervo's son who cannot be killed, Kullervo (or "the son of Kaleva") sold to slavery and failing in all his work - presented as an unintentional destroyer - then taking revenge by killing the cows and driving bears back home instead, a young man depraving his sister, the revenge on Untamo's household, etc.
- have been collected in the Finnish Karelia but also in White Sea Karelia and the historical region of Ingria.

"Kullervo" has been made into a drama play (1859) by the author Aleksis Kivi, into a symphony (1892) by the composer Jean Sibelius, and into an opera (1988) by the composer Aulis Sallinen.

The society where Kullervo's tale takes place, with its land property taxes and tribal wars, is closer to the medieval times than any farther antiquity. This may be explained by Lönnrot's method of combining elements of poems from different eras into one poetic narrative. Apparently Lönnrot also had an influence on Kullervo's nature as a character, but to what extent he refined Kullervo it is impossible to say. Kullervo as a character is akin to the fearless and resourceful young heroes depicted in many folk tales and fairytales throughout Europe. In addition, Untamo's useless efforts at killing Kullervo as a child (in this post) may have been influenced by European legends where a Christian person inexplicably survives through various murder attempts. One very old, international tale called Bärensohn describes a strong man who performs all his tasks in a chaotic, destructive manner, and faces different kinds of murder attempts by his blacksmith master. His name varied from one country to another. These tales were apparently contemporaries with similar poems found in many regions of Finland, and in time they (were?) combined with the Western-Finnish folk tale about a horrible family feud between brothers.

The poem describing Kullervo as the shepherd of Ilmarinen's wife's cattle (this post) is a collection of cattle spells, magical words of protection, and words of "banishing the bear". (I included only a small section of those as the poem clearly needed some summarizing...) The bear was reminded of the oath it had made not to harm people with its claws and teeth. A ritualistic greeting to the bear, along these same lines, was described in the calendar post (May 9, "Kevätmiikkula" day in Karelia). The origin of the bear will be presented in the Kalevala, and thus in this forum, in some future thread.

When Lönnrot was editing the second printing of the Kalevala he was asked to decrease the number of spells included, but instead he increased it - as evidenced in this particular story - because they open up the inner world of the Kalevala characters, and that of the ancient Finns. Interaction between humans and nature is represented by spells in poetic but profound ways that a modern reader may appreciate.

In the original folk poetry there are two version of Kullervo's revenge to Ilmarinen's wife (who had baked a stone inside his bread, causing him to break his precious knife); either he drove the cows in the swamp to sink, or he turned them into wolves. The Kalevala includes a blend of these alternatives.

According to one source, the dramatically effective combination of a son's revenge and an incestuous seduction was also formulated by Lönnrot who combined them into one plot from original sources. Also, inexplicably, Kullervo's father Kalervo is alive although a few poems back he was supposed to be dead. The combination of these elements transformed that what would have originally been a revenge for Kullervo's father's murder to that of avenging the wrongs suffered by Kullervo himself as well as his parents. The original theme - avenging those who killed one's father - was known through the Nordic countries in the Middle Ages, and Shakespeare's Hamlet is a variant of it.

In the Finnish folk poetry collection Kanteletar there is a poem that describes a young man seducing his sister in the same manner as recounted in the Kalevala (presumably utilized by Lönnrot when combining the latter). In that poem the seducer rides into the sea as soon as the siblinghood is revealed; the sister's fate is not mentioned. Depictions and lamentations of both Kullervo and his sister can also be found in Kanteletar. Siblings falling in love with each other is a medieval narrative theme, one version of which is included in Richard Wagner's opera Die Walküre. Kullervo leaving for war, his defiance, and the lamentation of the "scene of crime" can also be found in the folk poems collected in the Kanteletar.

In some old folk poem it was news about the death of Kullervo's wife, not mother, that upset him when on his way to take revenge on Untamola. Kullervo's harsh comments on which ingredients it will take to create a new family member, in place of a dead one, are derived from elements found in the poem about "the magically made moose of Hiisi" as well as some other origin poems.

And in some other poem it is told how Kullervo, son of Kalervo, has a sword made for him and leaves for battle, blowing his horn... But is defeated and falls in the battle.

Alassëa Eruvande

Sep 24, 7:12pm

Post #6 of 34 (2641 views)
Speaking of the Kalevala... [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, lo, and behold! Miracles do happen!

You posted this thread back in December about the 100th anniversary of the nation of Finland. There was a little crochet blanket project mentioned.

I expressed interest in attempting the blanket. It only took me six months, from January to June of this year, to finish it. It's taken another three months to get around to posting about it. Tongue

Here it is.

I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!

Alassëa Eruvande

Sep 24, 7:21pm

Post #7 of 34 (2643 views)
Here is my favorite square. [In reply to] Can't Post

It is the result of the Wizard smack down you reference above. Laugh
Joukahainen in the Swamp:

I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!


Sep 25, 2:55pm

Post #8 of 34 (2624 views)
wow, beautiful! [In reply to] Can't Post

Is that your heritage?

I was at a mountain lodge last weekend with a friend visiting from out of state, and we went to the ranger talk. We sat near to a woman who turned to me and said "I think I know you!" Turned out we had gone to college together - I remembered her as the girl who moved her bed out of her dorm room and slept in a hammock! We chatted, and I explained that I'd taken my friend, who is mostly Swedish, to the new Nordic Museum in Seattle. My friend-from-college said that she'd been looking into her own heritage and had learned that she is probably Sami. So now she's very interested in that tradition too. And what a small world it is - yet so diverse!

I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the words begin to move around … The words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young.

-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on Sep 25, 2:56pm)


Sep 25, 10:10pm

Post #9 of 34 (2608 views)
That looks lovely - I admire your skill! [In reply to] Can't Post

I was going to say "Wow, beautiful!" but Annael beat me to it. Tongue

But your blanket really looks amazing - thank you for sharing! (And three months is not really such a long time to get to posting Tongue as it took me at least twice that to get started with this thread...)
I have no experience with crocheting at all and can only admire what others can accomplish. Your choice of colors is more peaceful and cool than the ones in the "example blanket squares" linked in my December post. A beautiful piece of textile art!

And you gave Joukahainen a face - he looks so cute! Angelic Sinking into a (snowy?) swamp and looks like he is waving his hand, with a smile on his face. Adorable HeartLaugh

Thank you so much for posting the pictures! Smile

Alassëa Eruvande

Sep 25, 11:01pm

Post #10 of 34 (2607 views)
Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

I had never attempted a project this big, so I'm pretty proud of it.
As for the color scheme, the project had six different color schemes. Mine was called "Lake", with all the blues, for all the lakes in Finland. There was a gray, for the rocks, bright colors for fields, shades of pastels and gray for a pond, bright and bold colors for a forest, and shades of gray, white and magenta for a fell. A company in Finland sold the yarn in kits for each color scheme, but by the time I came to the project, they had sold out of every kit. So I was left to find yarn colors and sizes as best I could on my own.

It wasn't really too difficult and the patterns were expertly written, with plenty of explanations of unusual stitches for us with less experience. There were also outstanding you tube videos so you could follow stitch by stitch, which I had to do for one of the squares, Maiden's Spindle. And a Facebook group to ask for help and post your progress. I really enjoyed it, so thanks for posting about it!

I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!

Alassëa Eruvande

Sep 25, 11:09pm

Post #11 of 34 (2606 views)
Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, my maternal grandmother's people came from Finland. She never talked much about it, other than to teach us to count to ten in Finnish and how to say "milk". So I have no idea what part of Finland they came from or when they came. They were some of the immigrants whose surnames got changed upon their arrival in the USA. They went from Niemi to Hermanson, because, well, Great Grandfather was Herman's son. Crazy However, on their marriage certificate from Minnesota, it still says "Niemi".
I have never gotten into searching for them though.

I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!


Sep 26, 12:41pm

Post #12 of 34 (2558 views)
*** Brief introduction to Finnish nature spirits and not-quite-elves [In reply to] Can't Post

From this post:

In times long past, the so-called visible world we live in and the invisible world of spirits were not seen as two separate dimensions but mysteriously entwined and overlapping.
According to the old faith, man was not alone in the world as the only sentient being; people could improve their circumstances by showing respect to various deities and invisible
spirits that live all around us. --- Highest hills, largest caves, brightest springs and greatest trees were often thought of having their own "spirit of the place" and deemed as sacred sites
by generations of people living close to them.

The translator Crawford in his foreword for the Kalevala:

The basic idea in Finnish mythology seems to lie in this: that all objects in nature are governed by invisible deities, termed haltiat, regents or genii. These haltiat, like members
of the human family, have distinctive bodies and spirits; but the minor ones are somewhat immaterial and formless, and their existences are entirely independent of the objects in
which they are particularly interested. They are all immortal, but they rank according to the relative importance of their respective charges. The lower grades of the Finnish gods are
sometimes subservient to the deities of greater powers, especially to those who rule respectively the air, the water, the field, and the forest. Thus, Pihlajatar, the daughter of the aspen
[rowan], although as divine as Tapio, the god of the woodlands, is necessarily his servant. One of the most notable characteristics of the Finnish mythology is the interdependence among
the gods. "Every deity", says Castren, "however petty he may be, rules in his own sphere as a substantial, independent power, or, to speak in the spirit of The Kalevala, as a self-ruling
householder. The god of the Polar-star only governs an insignificant spot in the vault of the sky, but on this spot he knows no master."

The Finnish deities, like the ancient gods of Italy and Greece, are generally represented in pairs, and all the gods are probably wedded. They have their individual abodes and are surrounded
by their respective families.

1) "Forest Spirit" by Tuomas Korpi 2) art by Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin 3) "Hiidet" by yennie on DeviantArt 4) "The Folk of the Earth" by Midorisa in DeviantArt (larger HERE)

There are two almost identical words in Finnish - haltia and haltija - that have both been used in folklore and myths when referring to various spirits. In modern Finnish the word haltia
has become identical with "elf", and in fantasy literature and movies it typically refers to beings that more or less remind us of Tolkien's elves. But in folklore and old belief legends, the word
was used for a large number of spirits or supernatural beings that varied in size, appearance, temperament, and possible "occupation". While haltia nowadays typically indicates an ethereal,
beautiful, noble and pointy-eared (probably immortal) humanoid living in (harmony with) nature, none of the haltias in Finnish folklore exactly correspond with that image.

It seems likely that the word haltia is connected to the verb haltioitua, "to become enchanted (charmed, bewitched)".

On the other hand, the word haltija is derived from the verb hallita - to control, rule over, or possess. In modern Finnish, haltija means (as Wikipedia tells us) "depending on the context,
holder, occupant, lord, master, ...." In folklore and mythology, haltija also refers to a supernatural being, but is most common in one specific case: When talking about the local guardian
spirit of fields and arable land, maanhaltija - in some sense, the occupier or holder of certain site - who must be honored in spells and rituals before starting to build a house. The spirit can
then include that house and its surroundings under his or her protection, thus becoming talonhaltija, spirit of the house. In that sense the guardian spirits of the house and other buildings
were exceptional among Finnish mythical beings; all other spirit beings lived somewhere in nature, but these were at home in human-made buildings. They were usually very small in size,
despite their obvious powers and influence, and have also been called tonttu (maybe to differentiate them from guardian spirits in nature). In English they are presumably called "house elves"
(or "household spirits" in general), but I prefer the word "gnome" for them, as they seem to have next to nothing in common with what we typically think of as elves.

These spirits-of-the-earth willing to become spirits-of-the-house, and other guardian spirits, should not be confused with all other mythical beings and folks living in nature. There is a clear
distinction between 1) different kinds of haltijat, solitary guardian spirits each dedicated to a certain place and "ruling over it" or protecting it, and 2) different mythical folks that often lived in tribes,
such as maahiset ("earthlings", or maybe "groundlings" after all), menninkäiset (still looking for a term for them), or trolls. The latter groups did not rule over anything and needed no sacrifices or
rituals from people; they just lived their lives, like we do, in various places and required no more than common courtesy that made peaceful coexistence possible.

Unlike most elves of other mythologies, or the hiisi folk, giants and trolls of Finland, the haltija guardian spirits were solitaries. They did not form tribes or family groups; each spirit was responsible
for its own hill, spring, glade, stables or mill etc., - protecting it and driving away intruders - and lived there alone. When they did meet others of their kind, the encounters were usually hostile
(there will be an example of that in the post about water spirits). However, as mentioned in the "Viewpoints...of the ancient Finnish faith" post I linked in the beginning, most of these independent spirits
were part of a "host" of one superior spirit (god) or other, even though not completely subservient; therefore all forest spirits belonged to the court of Tapio, the god of forests, while water spirits took care
of their specific rivers and lakes under the authority of Ahti, the god of waters. Unlike lesser spirits, the gods of different elements or spheres did have families.

Ukko, Tapio and Ahti - with their spouses - were essentially gods, because unlike most lesser spirits they were not dedicated to, or living in, a specific site; they were omnipresent, everywhere
where their element was to be found. Ahti lived in every river, spring and lake; Tapio lived in every forest, wood and grove. Ukko was naturally everywhere as the god of heavens.

Excerpt from "The Mythology of the Kalevala, with Notes on Bear-Worship among the Finns" by Wilfrid Bonser

The concept of godhood was understood differently before Christianity's arrival, and the significance of the Finnish "major spirits" - gods - has been exaggerated because the research
has been based on the God-centric views of the western Christian culture. In the everyday life of the ancient Finns, their local forest spirits, water spirits and other "lesser deities" were
often more important than the actual gods.

In addition to physical places like a forest or a hill, some immaterial phenomena was also regarded as having their own spirits; such as earth, fire, wind (air), frost etc. These spirits beings
were relatively vague and there is not much information available about them, apart from some folk poems and spells.

Under most conditions the nature spirits were invisible to the human eye, but they could show themselves if they so chose, or appear in a dream. According to different belief legends, spirits
could be men or women, old or young (sometimes children), beautiful or frightening in appearance; some of them had an animal shape, and others could change their form. If an animal looked
peculiar or behaved strangely, it was possible that it was actually a spirit.

Most nature spirits tolerated or even rewarded people who regarded them with respect, but punished those who were careless or behaved badly. Some guardian spirits were worshiped and
given sacrifices to, while others were not, depending on their responsibilities and their meaningfulness (or lack of) to people. Some spirits were mighty and usually kind, but some others were
evil or weak and people had no interest in getting their attention.

As told by various belief legends, people had different kinds of encounters with the spirit world, but - apart from sages and other wielders of magic - an actual contact was never sought after.
Tales of supernatural events and the spirit world were popular entertainment, but the beings described in them were thought ("known") to be real, and people were usually intimidated by them
and their unpredictable, otherworldly nature. As one teacher stated when writing about belief legends in 1902, "Any man who fought like a hero was nonetheless scared of gnomes, hiisi and
guardian spirits." Many spirits, "groundlings" and trolls could be nice and friendly, but they could also take you with them, cause many kinds of harm, and even kill. Everything that had to do
with the spirits of the dead was also frightening to most people, except for those "of strong blood" who had powerful väki (more about those concepts in later posts).

When Christianity took over the old pagan faith (as briefly described in the afore-linked post about the ancient faith) and the church attempted to change the way people viewed spiritual matters,
ordinary people could not comprehend why they should have given up their ancient mythical beings and spirits while adopting the new monotheistic faith. Old beliefs, traditions, rituals and spells,
as well as mythical beings and peoples, lived on and became mixed with Christian influences. But paradoxically Christianity also blended old beliefs with its teachings - most likely via individuals who
conveyed the new faith to the people while still being influenced by the old one themselves - ratifying the people's belief in nature spirits and supernatural beings. The Finnish translation of the Bible in
1642 mentions hiidet (hiisi folk) and the one from 1685 refers to the sons of Kaleva; catechism cautioned against resorting to witches, guardian spirits, forest spirits or water spirits; prayers and hymns
in primers and hymn books asked for protection from trolls.

Mikael Agricola (c. 1510-1557), a Lutheran bishop and the founder of literary Finnish, translated the Book of Psalms into Finnish and, in the foreword, added a rhyming list of the Finnish "false
gods" with one-sentence descriptions. In the end he comments: "Is the people not mad to believe in these [gods] and to pray to them! The Devil and sin made them do it." Possibly this early
stigmatization by an influential scholar is, in part, the reason why the Finnish school system educates one generation after another about the Greek and Roman gods, but almost completely
ignores our own spiritual heritage.

Getting back to the difference between haltia and haltija... Tongue While some Finns might refer to elves with either "haltia" or "haltija", the latter term is the only one officially acceptable when meaning
"holder, occupant, lord, master" as explained before. But mistakes and typos do happen, also in plaques and signs. Therefore:

The sign attempts to say "Staying [on the premises] allowed only with the permission of the owner",
but instead it says "Staying allowed only with the permission of the elf."
Legolas: "I still cannot hear you asking nicely." Cool

(This post was edited by Silverlode on Sep 28, 5:04am)
Attachments: tuomas-korpi-beast forest spirit (Custom).jpg (23.2 KB)
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  hiidet_by_yennie-d1z4tm1 (Custom).jpg (25.6 KB)
  Maanväki by Midorisa_ (Custom).jpg (46.7 KB)
  Wilfrid Bonser_The Mythology of the Kalevala, with Notes on Bear-Worship among the Finns_ (Custom).jpg (47.7 KB)


Oct 2, 1:23pm

Post #13 of 34 (2393 views)
The Old Kalevala [In reply to] Can't Post

The first edition of the Kalevala, assembled from old Finnish and Karelian folk poetry *) by Elias Lönnrot, was published in 1835. The second printing - the one we now know as the Kalevala - was published in 1849, and since then the first edition has been named "the Old Kalevala". Lönnrot named it The Kalewala, or old Karelian poems about ancient times of the Finnish people, and it is comprised of 32 poems and 12,078 verses. Already at the time Lönnrot was convinced that the poems predated Christianity; he also believed them to describe some aspects of actual historical events.

The Kalevala immediately draw attention in the academic circles for the contribution it gave to the Finnish literature, as well as for demonstrating that Finns had long possessed a culture of indigenous myth, poetry and spirituality (a fact that the authorities and the church had long suppressed due to it being "pagan" and therefore inferior). It strengthened the national identity of Finns who had been under the Swedish rule for centuries. Commercially the book was not a success and it took 12 years to sell out the first printing of 500 copies. The Kalevala was received with interest in many other countries and was translated into Swedish in 1841, French in 1845 and Russian in 1847. (By the end of 2010 it had been translated into 61 languages.)

The so-called New Kalevala - the one translated into English by John Martin Crawford in 1888 and addressed in these threads - contained newly collected material and was originally published in 1849. Comprised of 50 poems and 22,795 verses, it is the "official" edition we mean when talking about the national epic. However, it was edited more substantially by Lönnrot than the Old Kalevala. He no longer regarded it possible to restore the poems into their original form and combined some similarly themed poems into larger wholes (as described in the "Further commentary... for the story of Kullervo" post above in this thread), following his intuition in which poems he believed to have originally been linked together. He had noticed, especially when collecting lyrical poems, that the runesingers combined poems in various ways, and it was therefore not possible to define one original form, order or content for them. When editing the Kalevala he saw himself following in their footsteps in choosing a particular version and combining it with others.

Very little is actually known about Elias Lönnrot's personal contributions to The Kalevala. Scholars to this day still argue about how much of The Kalevala is genuine folk poetry and how much is Lönnrot's own work. During the compilation process it is known that he merged poem variants and characters together, left out verses that did not fit and composed lines of his own in order to connect certain passages into a logical plot. Similarly, individual singers would use their own words and dialect when reciting their repertoire, even going so far as to perform different versions of the same song at different times.

The Finnish historian Väinö Kaukonen suggests that 3% of The Kalevala's lines are Lönnrot's own composition, 14% are Lönnrot compositions from variants, 50% are verses which Lönnrot kept mostly unchanged except for some minor alterations, and 33% are original unedited oral poetry.

Despite Lönnrot's influence, the Kalevala has been called one of the most demotic epics because he only added approximately 3% of his own lines, and everything else is from the original poems. Lönnrot never presented himself as the author of any Kalevala-related publication, and never wrote his name on the title page (nor cover, opposed to what can be seen in the example in the first post of this thread). He wanted to fade his own contribution behind the collective group of runesingers - behind the ordinary folk of Finland - and not be celebrated for any creative contribution; according to his own words, he could "take as little credit for the finished epic as a wreath-maker can take credit for the natural growth and beauty of flowers".

The Old Kalevala is more compact, concise and more faithful to the old poems as individual pieces than the new edition. Different layers and periods of poetry (more about those in the next post) have intermingled and blended in time, resulting in traces of several eras visible in practically every poem collected in the 1800s. The most conservative, least altered folk poetry was the heroic epic poetry collected in the White Sea Karelia, and that was the main source that Lönnrot used when compiling the epic.

Lönnrot's original, very large and unorganized collection of folk poetry was made available to researchers in 1874. Together with poems collected by other scholars we have (as I may have mentioned once or twice) the world's largest collection of folk poetry, each entry marked with the date and locality, but only some of them with the runesinger's name. Therefore it is possible to read, compare and research the poems in their original form and find out how some of them differ from those chosen for the Kalevala.

*) Lönnrot was by no means the only scholar collecting folk poetry in the early 1800s. Many others also traveled across Finland and Karelia, collecting old poems and songs, and a number of them are also used as sources for the Kalevala.


When I first started posting about the Kalevala in 2015, I used the book I have and the ones available in the Internet (in Finnish and English) as my essential source materials. I was not aware of the Old Kalevala at the time - may have heard it mentioned in school ages ago, maybe Unsure but have forgotten - and there was no new printing of it available here until the end of 2017. The second edition, i.e. "New Kalevala" is much more widely known in Finland as well as abroad, and the one we are taught about & read a little bit at school. I hope that those of you who read these threads do not feel like I have mislead you by posting only about the New Kalevala even though the poems are closer to their original order & form in the old one. I will include comparisons and information about the poems of the Old Kalevala whenever possible in upcoming "analysis, background, commentary" posts.

Finnish folk poetry consists of several layers of oral tradition with varying ages, and the poems collected for the Kalevala originated in a wide area reaching from Ostrobothnia region in western Finland to Savonia in the middle and the Finnish Karelia in the east, all the way into areas that are now part of the northwestern Russia. Therefore it would have been quite impossible - even without any editing by Lönnrot - to trace all poems back to their original sources, choose the "correct versions " (from those that were available - i.e. not forgotten and lost) from several similar poems that differ according to region as well as age, and compile a one, true, most faithful epic above all others. Even though I do wish I had read the Old Kalevala years back, now I can only go forward and will continue in the same manner as before; following & commenting the (New) Kalevala, but with additional posts containing comparisons with the old one.

(Kalevala/mythology/nature themed logo of the "Finland100 Kalevala CAL" crochet blanket project, design by Anne Vierimaa, with detail)

(This post was edited by Ilmatar on Oct 2, 1:28pm)
Attachments: Finland100_Kalevala CAL project logo_designed by Anne Vierimaa_ (Custom).jpg (47.6 KB)


Oct 2, 1:55pm

Post #14 of 34 (2387 views)
Myths & folk poetry behind the tales of the Kalevala, as categorized by type, with examples [In reply to] Can't Post

(This is a sequel to the post "About oral tradition and folklore" that mentioned various types of folk poetry. Only those folk poems of the so-called epic poetry that were used in comprising the Kalevala are included here.)

Matti Kuusi, a folklorist, paremiographer and paremiologist, has divided the epic poetry in the Kalevala metre into these categories on the basis of their age:
1) Proto-Finnic period --> oldest etiological myths (creation myth, the world tree)
2) Early Kalevala period --> Balto-Finnic origin myths (origin of boat, kantele, etc.), shaman poetry
3) High Kalevala period --> before Christianity came to Finland; adventures of Väinämöinen, Kaukomieli (Lemminkäinen) etc.; historical heroic poetry
4) Medieval Kalevala period --> Christian legends, ballads, but also younger poems regarding Väinämöinen and Lemminkäinen
5) Late Kalevala period --> historical poetry (in folk poetry collections but not included in the Kalevala)

In his book Kirjokansi the poet, folklorist and mythologist Martti Haavio divided what he described as "our most important narrative folk poetry" into categories on the basis of their contents.
I will return to some of these in upcoming "further analysis" posts, i.e. commentary from the books.

1) Poems based on etiological myths - sacred stories of origin, explanations for how things came to be; from ancient myths older than the Kalevala metre, predating the Proto-Finnic period; such as
* The Great Oak / Worldtree (felled by the copper dwarf-become-giant as told in this post)
* Skiing After the Magically Made Moose of Hiisi (as told in this post)
* The Giant Ox of Karelia (as told in this post)
* Väinämöinen actively creating the world by his word (NB: This is the Creation Myth as told in the Old Kalevala, as opposed to the version told in this post - I will make a separate comment post about the creation myth)
* Freeing the Hosts of Heaven - releasing the Sun and the Moon (coming up in some future Kalevala post)

2) Poems based on nature myths and mythical stories, such as:
* Sampsa (Sämpsä) Pellervoinen, the spirit of fertility and flora (as told in this post)
* Väinämöinen and the Spirit Salmon (as told in this post)

3) Poems based on the shaman tradition - centering around the old sage and cultural hero Väinämöinen - such as:
* Väinämöinen's Journey to Tuonela, the Underworld (as told in this post)
* Väinämöinen Visiting the Stone-Sage Antero Vipunen (as told in this post)
* Väinämöinen vs. Joukahainen: the Magical Battle of the Bards - Väinämöinen singing/conjuring his opponent to the swamp (as told in this post)
* Väinämöinen Playing Kantele - mesmerizing people and animals as well as nature spirits (coming up in some future Kalevala post)
* Väinämöinen's Sentence and Departure (coming up in some future Kalevala post)

4) The Saga Epos & heroic poetry - epic poetry, influenced by ancient Nordic sagas from the time before Iceland was populated:
* Sampo, the Magical Mill - Horn of Plenty (as set up in this post via Väinämöinen's wanderings, then introduced in this post and further commented right below that post; its fate will come up in a few future Kalevala posts)
* The Adventures of the Handsome Kaukomieli/Ahti/(Lemminkäinen) (as begun in this post, continued here and here - and then finished here; apparently the poems regarding Lemminkäinen's ordeals when trying to win a bride from the Northland actually formed their own whole, apart from the adventures of "Kaukomieli" - I understood that those two may have originally been two separate characters that Lönnrot combined into one!)

5) Poems based on folk tales and fairytales, such as:
* Kullervo's Tale - originally a story of a family feud from western Finland, but later "so thoroughly permeated by international stories of strong men that it can almost be called a fairytale" - an apologue
* Rival Suitors (as told in this post - in its original form the poem ends when the maiden is asked whom she will have, and she chooses Ilmarinen; the heroic deeds described in other posts were evidently from other poems and combined with the older, simpler poem)
* The Golden Maiden (coming up soon in a Kalevala post)

6) Visionary Poetry - poems in the medieval category of visionary literature. "Visionary Poetry is the art of pushing language past its ordinary expressional limits. It is the archaic poetic form of linguistically expressing and conveying transcendental states of consciousness. Since time immemorial Visionary Poetry has persistently served in linguistically linking together the common with the divine—the ordinary with the non-ordinary." (definition source)
* Lemminkäinen's Tale (as told in this post - starting from the point when he is denied an invitation to the wedding of Ilmarinen and Louhi's daughter - and continued here with his heroic struggles against mythical beasts - and then "jumping back in time" when compared to the timeline of these posts, as some things happen in a different order in these old poems than they do in the Kalevala; only after his arrival to the Northland does Lemminkäinen sing all witches and heroes to their doom, except for the blind shepherd, in this post - who then immediately attacks him with the snake and throws him into his death, i.e. the dark river of Tuonela, as told in the end of this post (as all ordeals in between those events were credited to Ahti Kaukomieli, a separate character, in the old poems (see above); and finally he is rescued and put back together by his mother, as told in this post)

7) History-themed poetry, such as:
* Searching for suitable wood to build a boat (as demonstrated by Väinämöinen, told in this post)


Oct 4, 10:00pm

Post #15 of 34 (2337 views)
P.S. [In reply to] Can't Post

For one thing, I forgot to mention that the Legolas pic in the spirits post was not made by me - I don't make memes etc. - the source is here.

Also, today (4 Oct) it was the national Korvapuusti Day in Finland Tongue (and our neighbor Sweden who has its own cinnamon bun).
Korvapuusti is our traditional cinnamon-cardamom bun. Recipe with European & American measurements is here .


Oct 4, 10:25pm

Post #16 of 34 (2337 views)
Analysis, background, commentary: The Creation Myth [In reply to] Can't Post

(Maybe I will call these Analysis, Background, Commentary posts "ABC posts" for short. Tongue)

Original post: Creation Myth: World Born out of Eggshell Shards

In the Old Kalevala it was not Ilmatar but Väinämöinen who created the world - more specifically, its geographical formations - in the primordial sea. In the folk poems, Ilmatar was a lovely maiden of the ether (air) and also "first of mothers", but she does not appear to be Väinämöinen's mother except in the version edited by Lönnrot, who was convinced that the role of a creator had been given to Väinämöinen only when the name of the original god-like figure had been forgotten. Some poems mention both Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen as creators of the world. (However, the supreme god Ukko was not seen as a creator by ancient Finns; in some poems of the Kalevala he was given that title by Lönnrot who apparently mistook Ukko as the Finnish equivalent of God in Christianity.) Väinämöinen, as presented in the Kalevala, was thus born into a world where all essential elements were in place, but culture was yet to emerge. Participation in the cosmic act of creation, as presented in folk poetry, reflects his fundamental mythological importance. The character of Väinämöinen is the pivotal root of the Balto-Finnic mythology, a connection to "the time before the beginning", the unchanging and indisputable authority of the past.

The creation myth, according to the Old Kalevala:
In the beginning of the world there was the primordial sea. Väinämöinen was born at night (alone, or from the maiden Iro - see below), went to the smithy the following day, and forged himself a horse. He went riding "over the dark sea", but a Laplander who hated him shot him down (with a bow?). Väinämöinen fell down and, while hitting the waves, created islands and shoals. And eagle *) flew south from Lapland and made its "nest of copper" on Väinämöinen's knee that rose above the water like a tussock, laying - not "six golden eggs and one egg of iron" like in the previously posted version, but a single golden egg. Väinämöinen thinks his knee is on fire and moves it; the egg falls to the water and is broken in several pieces. Väinämöinen then creates the world with his words (contents similar to what was in the original post; this translation mine):

"The lower part of eggshell / to be the ground below;
The upper part of eggshell / to be the sky above;
The egg white to shine as daylight;
The egg yolk to shimmer as moonlight;
The mottled part with colors / to form the stars in ether!"

1) The Creation of the World" by Björn Landström - 2) "The Eagle Laying an Egg on Väinämöinen's Knee" by Robert Wilhelm Ekman (1859) - 3) album cover "The Beginning of Times" by the metal band Amorphis

The cultural heroes of the Karelia region were born virginally of the maiden Iro, as told in this post (and more about the three heroes here):

folk poems feature the maiden called Iro who gave virgin birth to three godlike sons: Väinämöinen (firstborn), Ilmarinen, and Joukahainen (lastborn). These cosmic brothers were apparently associated with different elements. Väinämöinen was linked with the sea, and in some spells water is described as "the oldest of brothers" (vesi vanhin veljeksistä). Ilmarinen, the eternal blacksmith, was strongly associated with iron (and possibly also the element of air blowing from his bellows). That leaves fire for Joukahainen, although it is not directly stated in the poems. Water, iron, wind (air) and fire together enabled people to make weapons and tools, and therefore brought forth civilization - designating the three heroes as not only elemental powers, but originators and protectors of culture.

Birth by a virgin is a theme in many international myths around the world, the best known version of which is included in the New Testament of the Bible. This origin gives a godly hero a special status, lifting him above mere human beings.

Lönnrot left Väinämöinen drifting and swimming in the sea for eight years, but in oral folklore the hero - following a classic mythical pattern - achieved his full capabilities immediately, and was ready to build a smithy and forge a horse of iron. Blacksmithing and the ability to forge a magically functioning being, as well as growing into adulthood in an instant, are features that connect Väinämöinen to the eternal hammerer Ilmarinen (whose origin was described in this post). The day/night contrast enforces the aspect of these being non-human characters, since it can be seen - when compared with international equivalents - as a crossing between this world and the one beyond. Being born, and growing up, at night indicate the realm of otherworldliness, the dimension outside our own. When a night-born hero arrives to the day he also crosses over from the spiritual realm into the human world.

There are myths about the world being born from egg(shards), in or above the primordia sea, in Estonia and Ingria. In a larger context the "world egg" theme can be found in ancient texts of Egypt, Orphism in ancient Greece, India, China, and many regions of the Pacific Islands - it is impossible to say where the myth originated or which influences may have traveled to the area of the present-day Finland and Karelia at the time these poems were born. Apparently some native American myths have people, instead of the world, born from a mythical egg.

*) In some old poems this bird was a waterfowl, similarly to the version told in my original post. Originally I called it a pochard, then a bluebill, then I thought I had gotten the species mixed up and corrected it as the common goldeneye; but now I finally found out that the modern name for the latter [sotka] was in fact used for the bluebill in the past [now we call it telkkä]. I apologize for the very minor mix-up; so, finally, bluebill it is! Except in the Old Kalevala, where it's an eagle...)

(This post was edited by Ilmatar on Oct 4, 10:32pm)
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Oct 8, 7:20am

Post #17 of 34 (2165 views)
*** A few terminology questions to native speakers of English, and a few clarifications [In reply to] Can't Post

Writing these posts is interesting to me not only from the point of view of mythology/folklore/traditions, and sharing some things that may not be available in English elsewhere, but also as a lover of the English language (as much as my native tongue, although I'm well aware I'll never master it as well as Finnish). I love to learn new words and try to pick the most suitable ones for any given topic (so I hope you can bear with me, in case you read this post, because I'm peculiar [persnickety?] that way Tongue - blame it on my schooling as a translator). There are a few terms that I keep running into and have to work around, trying to find the closest term with almost the same meaning. If someone knows an answer to any of these - or just has a good working suggestion - and could tell me (here or in a PM) I would much appreciate it:

1) In Finland's agrarian past, a house was owned & run by its master; typically this was the oldest son of the previous master, who would later leave the house to his own oldest son, etc. for generations. While the society was patriarchal, the master's wife had as much power in the "feminine" areas of running the house as her husband had in the "masculine" areas.
In Finnish they have their own distinct terms: isäntä (male) and emäntä (female).
What should emäntä really be called? Would you agree with these associations?
- "mistress" sounds a bit weird, and maybe has erotic undertones (?) - or maybe that's just the association I have for it from TV etc., but to me the idea of "master and mistress" of a house sounds like the master had a lover instead of / in addition to a wife...?
- "hostess" sounds like there must be a host as well, as if they are hosting an event, even when only taking care of their own business by themselves
- "lady" sounds too fine and mighty for a wife of an ordinary farmer
- "housewife" sounds way too modern and diminishes the woman to only being "someone's wife" without their own merit (?)
- "matron" sounds like a profession, someone who is paid to look after the house
Is any of these better than the others - maybe "mistress" after all - or is there a term I have not thought of? The same question applies for Louhi in the Kalevala posts, who is "Pohjolan emäntä" - hostess of the Northland? Mistress of the Northland? Something else...?

2) In most parts of the country the main building of a typical, traditional peasant house - a farmhouse in the countryside - consisted of certain rooms that had specific purposes, such as a porch or two, an anteroom/vestibule, the bed chamber of the master and his wife, and - often at the opposite ends of the house - these two, the largest rooms:
- tupa, characterized by a masonry oven, long table and benches along the walls, water barrel, kitchen cupboards and household supplies etc.; this was where the women cooked and baked, and where people ate their meals
- pirtti, furnished with an oven, spinning wheels, cupboards, benches/beds, peasant tapestries, carving equipment etc.; this was where the young folk of the house and the paid workers (i.e. farmhands and service maids) slept, and where the women spun wool and the men carved wooden tools and shingles
In the interest of improving my vocabulary Smile I would like to know if there are any terms in the English language that could be used for tupa and pirtti, even if they don't have exactly the same functions. Is there any optional term for tupa, other than a kitchen (which sounds so modern to me, and does not include the "dining room" function)? Or is there a term vaguely similar in meaning to pirtti, which was not so much the relaxed "living room" of modern times but also a place for working, sleeping etc.? I would be interested in hearing what rooms country houses and farmhouses in other countries had!

3) In the past centuries, käräjät was a regular meeting of the eldest, wisest and/or the people-chosen representatives who came together from a specific region to take care of common issues; to exchange knowledge, make decisions, litigate, and to maintain laws, traditions and human relations. Often there were three meetings in a year: winter-käräjät, spring-käräjät and autumn-käräjät. (Nowadays käräjät only means a court meeting.) Is there an English term that would imply the older, wider meaning of käräjät?

4) Talkoot was (and on occasion still is) a traditional form of helping out your neighbors. People of the community (village) would come together to build a house or some other large structure, to clean up after a storm or a flood, to clear up a thicket, etc. without payment. It has been a tradition that when the work is done, the folk of the house/family that received the help offers a meal to everyone involved (often a soup because it was easy to make in large quantities, followed by beer and/or coffee etc.). Is there a term in English for talkoot, other than the more general "voluntary work"?

1) a woman in an old tupa - 2) a multipurpose tupa in a house in Ostrobothnia (now a museum) 3) people working in their pirtti in 1907, carrying out iltapuhteet ("evening tasks") = light inside work typically done in the evening

Clarifications, definitions, corrections

According to Wikipedia (which I usually find a relatively trustworthy source for basic terminology check), "A peasant is a pre-industrial agricultural laborer or farmer, --- . In Europe, peasants were divided into three classes according to their personal status: slave, serf, and free tenant. --- The word "peasant" is—and long has been—often used pejoratively to refer to poor or landless farmers and agricultural workers."
I was surprised to read the description because the peasants of Finland (and other Nordic countries?) were not slaves, serfs nor free tenants. The vast majority of them owned their house, outbuildings, and some of the surrounding lands (fields, pastures, forest). The house and its lands were typically inherited by the eldest son of the family, sometimes some other son or a close relative, and many houses stayed in the same family for centuries. Because families were large in the past and only the eldest would inherit the house, younger brothers either built their own houses or became crofters on their eldest brother's lands. (Daughters usually married and moved to their husband's house.) Crofters can be thought of as being tenant farmers, but a majority of what I call peasants cultivated their own lands. Most of them were farmers, but some had other "occupations" such as healers, cobblers, or "hunters to the crown" who delivered furs to the king's court.

In addition, in the historical context there is nothing pejorative about the term "peasant". In the old times there were four acknowledged social classes in the Nordic countries: nobility and clergy, which together formed the upper class, and bourgeoisie and peasantry, which together formed the lower class. Peasantry was seen as a class in its own right, and had its own representatives in the Diet (a gathering of members who use parliamentary procedure to make decisions - the English term was new to me). Naturally some peasants were poor and lost their homes, some had to live as boarders in their relatives' homes, and some even had to try and survive as beggars or vagabonds (no longer seen as peasants but given other designations). I don't know if the word "peasant" often has negative connotations in other countries, but the peasants I write about in the interlude posts were not landless or impoverished, and not in any kind of servitude. (While they were not particularly wealthy, it was quite common in many regions to find silver items in ordinary homes - which, as I read in some old book, baffled some foreign scholars on their travels in Finland - apparently enough to chip some of it away as occasional sacrifices to the forest or water spirits, because slivers of silver were a common ingredient in many rituals and spells.)

Coniferous trees
In some earlier threads (here for example) I talked about fir trees, but the more correct term would be spruce (Picea abies).

In school I learned that the tasty black-blue berries growing in the woods are called "blueberries" in English. Only recently I found out that the dark blue forest berries growing here are not the same as those that grow in North America, and that we were in fact taught the name of the latter variety. Apparently true blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) grow in North America, and what we have here are actually called bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus).
(According to Wikipedia: "While blueberry fruit pulp is light green in color, bilberry is red or purple." In that case I think that the berries sold in stores here with the name "shrub blueberries" are actually the cultivated American-originated blueberries. Their taste is very close to our native bilberries, but bilberries have a stronger flavor. Blueberry bushes can be bought here to grow in gardens. Are bilberry plants sold in the USA, respectively? Because here they only grow in forests... Smile)

(This post was edited by Silverlode on Oct 8, 2:31pm)
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Alassëa Eruvande

Oct 8, 1:46pm

Post #18 of 34 (2130 views)
Regarding emäntä... [In reply to] Can't Post

Of the possible substitutes you give, I think "mistress" would fit best. Yes, there's the whole non-wife lover connotation, but I think it also connotes someone who is in control of her surroundings. She may not even do the actual work, but is "mistress" of the house and it's employees, ie, servants.

"Hostess" sounds like a temporary gig, that she is only there to oversee a special event. In the Kalevala blanket, there was a "Hostess of Pohja" square, as well as one called "The Pohjola Wedding". It made me think she was in charge of the wedding festivities.

"Lady" does sound too fine for a farmer's wife.

"Housewife" could work, although, as you say, she just becomes somebody's wife. But it also implies that she takes care of the household.

"Matron" sounds like a paid profession, and makes me think of prison matron, a female who guards female prisoners.

I read a lot of historical fiction, and "mistress" seems to be the choice to describe the woman who is the wife and runs the house, whether she is the wife of a farmer or nobleman.

I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!


Oct 8, 2:49pm

Post #19 of 34 (2127 views)
Fascinating problems in translation - describing rural Finland to modern English-speakers [In reply to] Can't Post

1) I agree that 'mistress' is the best word for the lady of the household. The secondary meanings (kept woman, etc.) should be overridden by the context, if you're writing about a rural farm household.

2) Context is key, here, as I'm sure you know. There are a limited number of words for rooms in houses, appropriate to the pre-modern era, largely because houses back then had only a limited number of rooms! Of course some of those words survive but have been appropriated by the last few centuries' worth of changes in domestic architecture. So, sure, 'kitchen' still means the room with the cookstove in it. It will only sound 'modern' if you make it sound modern, I think. And remember, plenty of homes have what is sometimes called an 'eat-in kitchen', meaning part of the room has a generally smallish table that seats maybe four, and is often used for breakfast and lunch, if not dinner. Other houses feature an open plan, where the family's eating table is adjacent to the kitchen with only a countertop to separate the two spaces in what is essentially one room. A room attached to a kitchen in a house that employs a cooking staff is the 'pantry', a utility room for storing pots and pans, food, beverages, etc. The pantry sometimes connects the kitchen in the back of the house with the more formal "dining room" in the front. A dining room is usually associated with a wealthier household, since it is dedicated just to eating meals. You may know that many larger American homes in the suburbs have a 'dining room' that the family almost never eats in, but keeps for holidays and fancy occasions! The rest of the time they eat in the kitchen or family room, as I described above.

Ah, the 'family room'. This is what I would call your pirtti, except that unlike kitchen the word is inescapably a modern invention. The informal family room and the formal living room (often as little used as the dining room) have replaced the earlier single room called the 'parlor', or general front room used for living activities. Again, this reflects the enlargement of homes for the upper and middle classes that took place over the last few centuries. Other slightly older-sounding words I can think of for the pirtti are: workshop, common room, main room, chamber, hall, or dormitory. Of those, I should think hall is best; today the word is used for narrow passages like corridors, or the front receiving room, but I think readers would understand that a rustic house with just four rooms or so would call the most central and busy space the Hall (capitalized, maybe). It reflects a slightly more medieval understanding of a house having a large public space for retainers, guests, etc. separate from the private chambers of the host or owner.
Well, I hope this helps. A lot of my thoughts are based on my own experience growing up and living in the postwar suburbs of the U.S. Others here may have much better suggestions for you, reflecting a knowledge of more rural homes or other English-speaking cultures.

3) This sounds like a town meeting in my native New England in the US. Another word that came to me, not unlikely because this is a Tolkien site and I first learned the word from Tolkien, is 'moot'! I think that word is still used in England. Other words that might work, again depending on the context, are congress, hearing, assembly, gathering, festival, parliament, senate, association, college, or council.

4) The only thing I thought of here was the tradition of 'barn-raising'. Some communities have a 'volunteer day' for the public to assemble and clean up public spaces like parks and roadsides. Then there's 'paying your respects' when a family has suffered a loss - or the equivalent for an illness or disaster, in which one drops by to offer help or sympathy. The custom is often to bring prepared food to the family, rather than receive a group meal in exchange for some labor! I shouldn't wonder if, again, folks from a less suburban background than mine know some more specific words for the community turning out to help a needy family.

I agree with you that wikipedia is being too limited by saying that peasants were always tenants. As you say, a peasant is any rural farmer of a small-holding, as well as the enserfed or renting classes in the definition you found. 'Peasant' also carries connotations, at least in the US, of small-mindedness and an obstinate and uneducated commitment to old traditions and folklore; it's a bit of an insult, in other words! But again in context, looking back in time, I think it would be understood to be the accurate term for what we now call a farmer of a 'family farm'!

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Oct 8, 11:27pm

Post #20 of 34 (2082 views)
Thank you for the confirmation! [In reply to] Can't Post

And for the reasoning why the other options are less suitable. Smile (I did not even know about the prison matron before reading your post.)

I think "mistress" would fit best. Yes, there's the whole non-wife lover connotation, but I think it also connotes someone who is in control of her surroundings. She may not even do the actual work, but is "mistress" of the house and it's employees, ie, servants.

This sounds right. The mistress Smile of a Finnish farmhouse did a lot of work herself, as did her children, but she also presided over all female servants of the house and directed their work. For practical reasons, and also as a symbol of her authority over the household, the mistress had a keyring hanging on her belt, with all the keys to various outbuildings and gates. (In the earlier times - the Iron Age, the Middles Ages - her belt would also hold a purse, a needle case and a sheath knife.)

Thank you for your comments & help!

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Oct 8, 11:48pm

Post #21 of 34 (2079 views)
Thank you very much for your interest and thoughts! [In reply to] Can't Post

I was so glad to see your post Smile and really appreciate your taking the time to write such an insightful and thorough analysis of the terms! Some thoughts back:

1) That's two native speaker votes for "mistress", so mistress of the house it is!

2) You are right, houses of the pre-modern era had a limited number of rooms, and I'm interested in how they differ by function from the rooms of today's houses. While the number of rooms was smaller, the tupa and pirtti rooms of old farmhouses here were often considerably larger than the living rooms of modern houses (at least here), but then again families were bigger back then as well, not to mention the presence of paid workers. From the terms you mention I get the impression that the tupa of old Finnish farmhouses would be a combination of a kitchen, a dining room and a pantry, although some houses did have a separate pantry room. (We have a small pantry attached to our kitchen as well - they are quite common in houses as old as ours, unless renovated away along the years - although we certainly don't employ cooking staff! Tongue ). Of these three names I guess the best option is "kitchen", because the main purpose of tupa was cooking and baking (and eating).

Of the terms regarding pirtti, "parlor" might work well if it wasn't so formal - it's hard to imagine a farmhouse having something as fancy as a parlor - and it also seems to be associated with public spaces these days. Because pirtti was used for working as well as sleeping, it cannot be a workshop or a dormitory. From your list I would probably choose the "common room" because it seems to include/allow more functions than the other terms. And as you say, I also associate "hall" with an entryway (hallway), but:

would call the most central and busy space the Hall (capitalized, maybe). It reflects a slightly more medieval understanding of a house having a large public space for retainers, guests, etc. separate from the private chambers of the host or owner.

This sounds pretty much like what I was looking for. Smile A large, more or less public space within a private house where people can gather to do various tasks, and where everyone other than the master & mistress will sleep. In the summertime the paid workers, the young people of the house and any possible guests often spent their nights in two-storey outbuildings called aitta (as mentioned & picture-linked in the calendar post in the entry for June), but in other times and especially in winter it must have been nice & cozy to sleep in pirtti, in the warmth generated by wood-burning ovens and other people.

3) A town meeting sounds good but it would not work so well in the rural setting of most of my posts (mainly because the old traditions and even the ancient faith persisted in the countryside much longer than in towns). Of course it can be presumed that people living in the countryside would travel to the nearest town large enough to have its own käräjät - into a town meeting, in practice - but when speaking about the times when the huge majority of people still lived in the countryside and towns were really small when compared to today, a town meeting just sounds too urban to me... I must admit I really like "moot", and when looking up the term I still got "noun, historical: an assembly held for debate, especially in Anglo-Saxon and medieval times." Käräjät were not only for debate, but "moot" does have certain appeal! Of the other terms you mention, congress, senate and parliament sound too modern and too "administrative" to me, as ordinary people also went to käräjät sometimes, either to answer for their wrongdoings and defend themselves or to give witness statements. It may just be me, but IMO "gathering" sounds too informal, "festival" too festive Tongue (käräjät was a serious event), "hearing" too limited to the legal aspects only, and "college" too much like an educational institution. "Assembly" or "council" may be the best candidates (?).
But unless there is a very good reason not to use "moot", I'd like to choose that term for käräjät. Cool Maybe added with an explanatory word or two, depending on the context.

4) It sounds like there is not a word for talkoot in English (that you or I would know of), with close to the same meaning. A "barn-raising" would only work for barns, and a volunteer day would have been almost every day in the old times when the sense of community was stronger than it is nowadays. Paying respects to a family that has suffered a loss has been a custom here as well, and IMO is a different thing entirely. Talkoot was only about physical work to be done together, and carried out with a good cheer - as the old saying goes, "Work done alone is like tar, but together it’s like honey." But then again, of all the terms discussed here I think that talkoot may be the easiest to work around, in case I ever need to use it in an actual Interlude post.

Finally, I'm glad to hear you agree with me re: the definition of a peasant. But this made me reconsider using it:

'Peasant' also carries connotations, at least in the US, of small-mindedness and an obstinate and uneducated commitment to old traditions and folklore; it's a bit of an insult, in other words!

It's interesting how similar words can have such different connotations in different countries. In Finnish the term is talonpoika, which would literally translate as "son of the house", and it has nothing negative associated with it. (We do have insulting names indicating small-minded, obstinate and uneducated people - even those specifically living in the countryside - but "peasant" is not that.) When writing about peasants, and their livelihoods or beliefs, the emphasis of my posts has not been in farming as an occupation as much as it has been in peasants as a (respectable) social class. But if that's the way many people in the USA think when they see the word "peasant" - giving it cultural/stereotypical undertones I did not intend - I may have to use it less, and talk about "farmers" and "countryside of the old days" or something similar instead.

Your post was very informative and answered my term questions with more options than I had dared hope for. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and knowledge! Smile

(This post was edited by Ilmatar on Oct 8, 11:58pm)

Eowyn of Penns Woods

Oct 9, 1:50am

Post #22 of 34 (2064 views)
Crud, I just lost my post and have to rewrite the whole thing! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll be back to talk about rural living, but for now I'll just say that the most generic term I can think of for talkoot is 'work party'. Men might do the barn-raising or the clearing and repairs after a storm, but women would get together to do things like clean the manse from top to bottom before the arrival of a new preacher... particularly if there was to be a woman in the house, or to take care of any local household in need.

And I think we call bilberry "mountain blueberry". The last bilberries I had were in Icelandic skyr.


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Alassëa Eruvande

Oct 9, 4:49pm

Post #23 of 34 (2018 views)
That reminds me [In reply to] Can't Post

of "chatelaine". It can refer to the woman who is in charge of a large house, according to Google, and also to the set of chains that hold the keys to the various doors, trunks, etc., of the house. It can also hold small tools like scissors.
In my encounters with the word, it can refer to either the wife of the master, or it can be a woman who is not married to the master, but still a relative, like his mother or sister, who runs the house for him in the absence of a wife. I have also seen it used to refer to the housekeeper who is not a relative, nor a "non-wife lover".

Maybe "chatelaine" would be a good substitute.

I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!

Eowyn of Penns Woods

Oct 9, 10:33pm

Post #24 of 34 (1985 views)
Even with my more unusual rural American upbringing, I'm at a loss. [In reply to] Can't Post

My grandmother's "summer house" with its "summer kitchen" still isn't a match for the Finnish pirtti. The summer house was a long one-story building separated from the main house by a narrow walkway (where care was needed while passing through as there would be a deer suspended overhead during hunting season). It wasn't exclusively for summer use, but the name stuck. The summer kitchen had big cupboards filled with things like books, toys, and jigsaw puzzles, and the older piano sat along the opposite wall. It had tables and seating for all, including rocking chairs in various sizes, and sometimes one of grandma's quilting frames would be set up in there. We might do embroidery or other needlework, too. The old wood-fired cook stove was mostly used for baking so we wouldn't get the main house heated up unnecessarily, but we might have a pot of stew or potatoes simmering on top at the same time. It was always cooler in this building, but the summer kitchen had lots of windows and a screen door for ventilation if it got too warm. There was a parlor stove in there, too, in case anyone spent the night in the always open connected bedroom during colder weather, but only portable kerosene heaters were ever used in modern times. Behind that bedroom was another that became grandma's sewing room/art studio (lots of natural light). I loved the summer kitchen, and liked sleeping there day or night.

Next-door, but not accessible from inside the summer kitchen was an even cooler room (fewer windows) which had multiple uses. This was "the brooder room", but the old electric stove in there for pressure-canning food (again, no need to overheat the main house) got more use than the chicken hatchery equipment in the corner did. Baskets and crates of apples and root vegetables might be stored in there for a while. Next-door to that room, again with its own private door, was the workshop filled with antique tools and lumber.

An outbuilding closer to the chicken house (a real house, no longer fit for humans, but fine for fowl) and pens had a bunk room that would have housed farmhands at one time, but it became like a clubhouse where the younger generation could get away from the adults. That the bunk room was part of the "dog house" with indoor/outdoor kennels and runs was always a bonus for us...until the barking started late at night. (As a very young child, I was accidentally rolled out of bed by a scared teenage girl during one of my young aunt's sleepovers. Fortunately, I wasn't in an upper bunk!) The mallard drake who thought he was a dog lived there, too, but that's another matter.

My grandparents enjoyed the benefits of modern life, but felt it was important to pass along the old traditions and methods of doing things to kids. At least once a year, grandma would declare an "Old-fashioned Day", and we would dress appropriately and use only antique things and recipes, with no electricity or flush toilets allowed. You learn to appreciate what you have after that, and complain less about what you don't have! I was being raised this way, and was used to it, but it was an ordeal for some of her Sunday School girls and our young relatives.

I like learning about the old ways of other cultures and countries, too, and enjoy your posts whether I reply to them or not. I'm the quiet one in the corner like Strider at the Prancing Pony. =)


Not a TORns*b!
Certified Curmudgeon
Knitting Knerd
NARF: NWtS Chapter Member since June 17,2011


Oct 10, 7:16pm

Post #25 of 34 (1964 views)
Re: chatelaine [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that would work well too, thank you. Smile I "googled" it too and got both the definition you mention, and "the wife of a castellan: the mistress of a château"; from French "châtelain" - the keeper of a castle. I suppose that the castle-association is the older meaning, and the mistress of a large house would be closer to the modern times. I'm just wondering if a "chatelaine" would be too noble and mighty title for a farmer's wife, even if the house was a big one. But I like the term, and the connection it has to the mistress's keyring! Shocked

In my genealogy research I have found that sometimes when a master died and there was no son to take his place - or the eldest son was still too young - and the mistress did not remarry, she would run the whole household until her son (or another suitable relative) would take over. In those cases the widow took the role - if not the title - of the master as well and was listed as the owner/holder of the house & estate in official documents. That reminds me of the title "dowager" but I'm pretty sure that's even higher up in the class system than chatelaine, as I have only heard about dowager duchesses, countesses or queens...!

Wikipedia: "A dowager is a widow who holds a title or property—a "dower"—derived from her deceased husband. As an adjective, dowager usually appears in association with monarchical and aristocratic titles."

Maybe an ordinary farmer's wife should be called a mistress --> and the mistress of a very large establishment (a manor house) would be a chatelaine...

Many thanks again! Smile

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