Anna-Leena Siikala: Itämerensuomalaisten mytologia [Baltic Finnic mythology]

12 April 2013 | Mini reviews, Reviews

mytologiaItämerensuomalaisten mytologia
[Baltic Finnic mythology]
Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2013. 536 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-222-393-7
€ 45, hardback

Academician and Professor Emeritus of Folklore Anna-Leena Siikala presents a overview of her research. The book also makes use of the latest research in other fields in order to chart Baltic Finnic folk poetry, shamanism and folk beliefs. The Kalevala, Elias Lönnrot’s epic poem based on Finnish folklore, forms only a part of the poetry written in Kalevala metre. Although the poem is often perceived to be Finno-Karelian in origin, around half of its material is also known in Estonia: many of the poems and myths have links to Uralic and Germanic tradition. By means of numerous examples Siikala illustrates the different styles of folk poetry, its manifestations of vernacular religion and its rich mythology. In Finland the poems became modified over the centuries, influenced by the Christian faith, among other things. In different areas the figure of the divine hero Väinämöinen has acquired different emphases: it is less a question of mythology than of mythologies. The book’s illustrations are rich and informative, and the work is a unique treasure trove in its field.
Translated by David McDuff

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