Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kalevala - Aino & Väinämöinen 5.9.1997

This wonderful Miniature sheet on the FDC is indeed a tribute to the well known epic in Finland. The stamps and the cover were issued on 5.9.1997. Aino is a figure in the Finnish national epic Kalevala. It relates that she was the beautiful sister of Joukahainen. Her brother, having lost a singing contest to Väinämöinen, promised Aino's "hands and feet" in marriage if Väinämöinen would save him from drowning in the swamp into which Joukahainen had been thrown. Aino's mother was pleased at the idea of marrying her daughter to such a famous and well born person, but Aino did not want to marry such an old man. Rather than submit to this fate, Aino drowned herself (or ended up as a nix). However, she returned to taunt the grieving Väinämöinen as a salmon. The name Aino, meaning "only", was invented by Elias Lönnrot who composed the Kalevala. In the original poems she was mentioned as the "only daughter" (ainoa tytär). Painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, depicting the Aino Story of Kalevala on three panes: The left one is about the first encounter of Väinämöinen and Aino in the forest. The right one depicts mournful Aino weeping on the shore and listening to the call of the maids of Vellamo who are playing in the water. The central pane depicts fishing Väinämöinen having thrown away a small fish, now turning out to be Aino, who laughs at him and vanishes forever. This beautiful set of three cards were given to me by My Dear Friend Pia
During the national romantic period at the end of the 19th century the mythological name Aino was adopted as a Christian name by Fennoman activists. Among the first to be named so were Aino Järnefelt (Aino Sibelius), born 1871 and Aino Krohn (the later Aino Kallas), born 1878. According to the Finnish Population Register Centre, over 60,000 women have been given the name. It was especially popular in the early 20th century, and the most common first name for women in the 1920s. It has returned to favor in the 21st century; it was the most popular name for girls in Finland in 2006 and 2007.


  1. Bank of Finland: The Aino Triptych by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

    Akseli Gallen-Kallela painted the first version of his Aino triptych in Paris in 1888 and 1889. In this brochure, Tuija Wahlroos, Director of the Gallen-Kallela Museum, discusses the birth of the Aino Myth, Triptych in Paris, sketches the background to the Aino myth and explains the differences between the Aino triptych in the Bank of Finland and the second version included in the collections of the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki.


    Then the haughty hare made answer,
    Chanting thus the fate of Aino:
    "Think ye not I journey hither,
    To be roasted in the skillet,
    To be stewed in yonder kettle
    Let fell Lempo fill thy tables!
    I have come with evil tidings,
    Come to tell the cruel story
    Of the flight and death of Aino,
    Sister dear of Youkahainen.
    With the stone of many colors
    Sank poor Aino to the bottom
    Of the deep and boundless waters,
    Like a pretty song-bird perished;
    Hung her ribbons on the aspen,
    Left her gold-cross on the sea-shore,
    Silken robes upon the alders,
    On the rocks her silken stockings,
    On the grass her shoes of deer-skin,
    In the sand her shining necklace,
    In the sand her rings and jewels;
    In the waves, the lovely Aino,
    Sleeping on the very bottom
    Of the deep and boundless blue-sea,
    In the caverns of the salmon,
    There to be the whiting's sister
    And the friend of nimble fishes."

    A longer version of this poem in Kalevala can be found at: