Hirvi Picture

The elk or the moose has been another important animal in ancient finnic cultures. It is by far the most frequently portrayed animal in rock paintings and prehistoric sculptures, as well as an important character in folklore. The rock paintings also reveal us a huge amount of boats with elk heads - whether there really were such remains a mystery.

Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, has saved fragments of ancient Sun Elk myth to our days. In the Kalevala version of this story the hero Lemminkäinen goes hunting in order to catch the Elk of Hiisi, of the Devil or of the Sacred. The elk is built from pieces of driftwood, rotten branches and horsetail plants and Lemminkäinen has to chase him on skis. The same mythological hunting story can be seen in a Karelian rock painting here and here. Some believe that at a time there were to different sides of Finnish animal shamanism - those who thought of the bear as their totem animal and those who thought so of the elk. Later on horses were linked with elks in poems and beliefs.
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