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The Mythical Origin Of The Finnish Horse

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Source: Suomenusko (native Finnish religion) Facebook page, posted 6.9.2013

suomenusko_sinimerikallio

Photo by Sini Merikallio

In Finland horses have assisted people in their work and in war probably since the Stone Age. The early presence of domesticated horses is evident from the fact that the word for a horse (hevonen) is known in all Baltic-Finnish languages. In addition, the words for ‘steed’ and ‘riding’ also have the similar origins in these languages.

The prehistoric horses around the Baltic Sea region belonged to the same Northern European common breed. Modern Finnhorses descend from this same breed. Horse-related objects as bridles have been found in Iron Age graves, which tells that horses were highly valued in the Iron Age society. Prominent men and women apparently had their horses buried with them.

In medieval Europe, Häme and Karelia regions for known for their horses and horsemen. Trade flourished around the Baltic Sea. In 1229 Pope Gregory IX complained in his letter that people of Vuojola (Gotland) dared to sell horses to the heathen Finns. Karelia, sometimes called Mare Karelia, provided horses for Hansa merchants who exported them to Central Europe along with other goods.

The head of the horse was made of stone, hooves out of rock and legs out of iron.

In Finnish mythology the horse has an iron origin. The first foal was said to have been forged in a smithy located in a sacred grove or inside the world mountain. The head of the horse was made of stone, hooves out of rock and legs out of iron. The back of the foal was forged from metal. As Väinämöinen rode the iron horse above the waters of primeval sea, a malicious stranger shot his horse, and the old tietäjä fell into the ocean.

Horses are also present in spells and incantations. Commonly spells were used to protect horses from hazards and to prevent them from escaping when horses were released to summer pastures. In some spells horse’s spirit is also called to banish malicious forces (kateet) or to assist the tietäjä in his work. Few spells that were used to stop wounds from bleeding call the mythical first foal (Hiiden varsa) to stop the blood flow.

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Author: Viivi

I'm a Finnish horse enthusiast. This blog is my tribute for the national horse of Finland. I started in 2009. My aim is to provide information about this multipurpose horse breed in English, in all its variety -as a historical and cultural figure, modern sport horse, friend and a companion.

One thought on “The Mythical Origin Of The Finnish Horse

  1. Pingback: Tapani is the day of the horsemen | Finnhorseblog.com

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