Questions of Ethno-Cultural
Substrata
in the Finno-Karelian Song of Creation
and the Sampo-Cycle
Frog
University of Helsinki
Cultural Exchanges Across the Baltic Sea in the Middle Ages
1st Meeting of the Austmarr Network
14th–15th April 2011, Tartu, Estonia
The Sampo-Cycle: A Case Study
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Corpus-based analysis
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Textual entities – verbally conventionallized ‘songs’
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Probably 900+ variants and fragments
Constituent elements
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Motifs, images, cultural figures, episodes
–Theory and methodology will not be outlined here
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Contextualizing data
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Socio-historical processes
Cross-cultural contexts
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Intersections and ethnocultural substrata
 Evidence of earlier era
 Maintained currency & evolved
What is the Sampo-Cycle?
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Three main ’acts’ of several ’scenes’ each:
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The Song of Creation
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The Forging of the Sampo
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The shooting of Väinämöinen
Väinämöinen-diver
Väinämöinen as first land
World-egg
Väinämöinen’s ransom
The deception of the tree
Ilmarinen forges the Sampo
The Theft of the Sampo
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Väinämöinen organizes sea-raid
Väinämöinen puts inhabitants of Pohjola to sleep and accomplishes theft
Pohjola wakes and pursues in ship
Enemy ship destroyed on magically raised land
Otherworld mistress becomes bird and grabs Sampo
Väinämöinen strikes bird; sampo is broken, bird flies off with lid
An ‘Ideal’ Model of Stratified Influences
Corpora (19th – 20th century)
------------------------------------------------------------------Reformation (16th / 17th century)
------------------------------------------------------------------Christianization (ca. 11th century onward) (Slavic influences)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Iron Age (Germanic influences)
------------------------------------------------------------------*Finnic cultural era (Baltic influences?)
------------------------------------------------------------------*Finno-Permic / *Finno-Volgic cultural era (Indo-Aryan influences?)
------------------------------------------------------------------*Finno-Ugric cultural era (Indo-European influences?)
Plurality in Myth
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Multiple cosmologies
Väinämöinen-World-Creation
 Ploughing the sea (The Singing Competition)
 Forging the heavens (incantations)
 Dualist diver myth (local aetiological legends)
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Proto-Finno-Ugric Cultural Era
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Supreme sky-god *Ilma
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Dualist antithesis (foreign; ’other’?)
Dualist bird-diver creation myth
Sky-god (duck) and antithesis (loon)
 Antithesis succeeds owing to magical powers
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Central & Northern Eurasian shamanism
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Ritual specialist; dangerous soul journey; separable
soul; stratified cosmology with world pillar as means of
travel; immediate contact with supreme celestial
god/sphere as well as underworld
Proto-Finno-Permic /
Proto-Finno-Volgic Period
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Linguistic-cultural era or regional isogloss?
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Problem of stemma models and cultural interaction
World-egg creation of heavenly bodies
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*Juma [’god’] – loan from an Indo-Aryan language?
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Finno-Volgic isogloss
What Indo-Aryan Language?
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Exhibited in Finnic, Permic, and Volgic
Stemma-model presumption that language of contact
survived
*Taivas [’heaven’] – *sambas [’(world) pillar’]
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Indo-Aryan loans / loan complex – Finnic isogloss
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Models for chronology?
Changing conceptions / cosmogony
Proto-Finnic Cultural Era?
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*Taivas–*sambas (Indo-Aryan?)
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ATU 1148b?
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Aetiology of thunder from grinding/milling stones
*Ilma → *Ilma-ri / *juma → *juma-la
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New conception of ’heaven’/’vault of heaven’
Distinct from *Ilma [’Sky; Supreme God’]
Disambiguates god from phenomenon of sky
Identification maintained in Uralic languages; not I-E langs
Iron-working technologies
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Nail-star (Germanic influence? – cf. Thor)
Aetiology of lightning struck from smithing at bottom of
sky/top of world pillar (also Latvian Pērkons)
Smith of heaven (aetiology of vault of heaven)
Attributed to *Ilma-ri – not Ukko [’Old Man’/thunder god]
Proto-Finnic to
North Finnic Cultural Era?
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’Old Man’ emerges as thunder god
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*Ilma-ri displaced from status as central celestial god
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... or distinguished as separate being?
North Finnic or Pan-Finnic’
Väinämöinen and World-Creation
Diver-function; celestial figure (*Ilmar-ri) of dualist
cosmology absent
 First earth created from own corpse
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Indo-European motif (cf. Germanic diver-creation)
North Finnic
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Väinämöinen not attested in South Finnic
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Proto-Finnic to
North Finnic Cultural Era?
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Institution of tietäjä vs. noita/shaman
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Interaction with otherworld through verbal actualization
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Väinämöinen provides cultural model for institution
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No soul-journeys; separable soul not in illness diagnostics;
world pillar not required to access celestial god Ukko
Väinämöinen myths employ shamanic narrative patterns and
motifs, but place emphasis on knowledge acquired which can
be employed in incantations
Germanic influences
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Incantation tradition developed in relation to Germanic models
Väinämöinen’s centrality parallels Germanic Odin
Proto-Finnic to
North Finnic Cultural Era?
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Institution of tietäjä vs. noita/shaman
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Lexical distinction of tietäjä and noita
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Implies parallel institutions of ritual specialist
Epic traditions maintained by tietäjä institution as conduit of
authority
Noita holds negative connotations and characterized as ’other’
Possible competing institutions
Proto-Finnic to
North Finnic Cultural Era?
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The Sampo-Cycle
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Ilmari(nen) subordinated to Väinämöinen
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The forging of the Sampo employs images of forging
the vault of heaven and world pillar
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Narrative assertions of relationships between mythic figures
Ilmage power, narrative power employed in new context
Subordinates Ilmari’s creative acts to Väinämöinen’s authority
The Sampo is destroyed; the vault of heaven carried
away
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(Shamans can no longer access the celestial sphere?!)
Synthesis in the Sampo-Cycle
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The Shooting of Väinämöinen
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Väinämöinen’s Ransom
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2MC historiola???
The death of the Germanic god which became Baldr
The Deception of the Tree
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The rape of Germanic Iðunn
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The Forging of the Sampo
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The Smith of Heaven
The Theft of the Sampo
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Reflexes of potential Circum-Baltic tradition?
Potential relationship to ATU 1148b?
The escape and battle for the Sampo
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Germanic mytho-heroic epic story-pattern
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Uncertain whether this story-pattern irefers to a mythological model
Intertextual references to the Väinämöinen-World-Creation
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Cf. The Song of Lemminkäinen
Perspectives
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The Sampo-Cycle emerged with:
The institution of the tietäjä
 The rise of Väinämöinen (‘eternal tietäjä’)
 The dominant incantation tradition
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The Sampo-Cycle:
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Assimilated and manipulated a range of contemporary
mythological material
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Both vernacular and Germanic
Constructed oppositions between the ideologies of the
tietäjä and shamanic institutions
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A ‘new’ mythology for a ‘new’ instutution
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