The Kalevala's Contents
Ilmatar (the Virgin of the Air) descends to the waters. A pochard lays its eggs on
her knee. The eggs break and the world is formed from their pieces. The mother of
the water then gives birth to Väinämöinen. Sampsa Pellervoinen sows
the forest trees. One of the trees, an oak, grows so large that it blots out both
the sun and the moon. A tiny man rises from the sea and fells the giant oak. The
sun and moon can shine once again.
Joukahainen challenges Väinämöinen to a contest of wisdom and is defeated.
With his singing, Väinämöinen causes Joukahainen to sink into a swamp.
In order to save himself, Joukahainen promises his sister' s hand in marriage to
Väinämöinen. Upon learning of the bargain, the sister Aino mourns
her fate and finally drowns herself.
Väinämöinen searches the sea for Aino and catches her (she has been
transformed into a fish) on his fishing hook. However, he loses her again and sets
out to woo the maiden of Pohjola, the daughter of the North Farm. Meanwhile, eager
for revenge, Joukahainen watches out for Väinämöinen on the way to
Pohjola and shoots Väinämöinen's horse from underneath him as he rides
across a river. Väinämöinen falls into the water and floats out to
sea. There an eagle rescues him and carries him to Pohjola's shores. The mistress
of Pohjola, Louhi, tends Väinämöinen until he recovers. In order to
be able to return home, Väinämöinen promises that Ilmarinen the smith
will forge a Sampo for Pohjola. The maiden of Pohjola, Louhi's daughter, is promised
to the smith in return for
On his way home, Väinämöinen meets the maiden of Pohjola and asks
her to marry him. She agrees on the condition that Väinämöinen carry
out certain impossible tasks. While Väinämöinen carves a wooden boat,
his axe slips and he receives a deep wound in his knee. He searchers for an expert
blood-stauncher and finally finds an old man who stops the flow of blood by using
Using magic means, Väinämöinen sends the unwilling Ilmarinen to Pohjola.
Ilmarinen forges the Sampo. Louhi shuts it inside a hill of rock. Ilmarinen is forced
to return home without his promised bride.
Lemminkäinen sets off to woo Kyllikki, a maiden of Saari Island. He makes merry
with the other maidens and abducts Kyllikki. He later abandons her and leaves to
woo the maiden of Pohjola. With his singing he bewitches the people of Pohjola to
leave the farmhouse at North Farm. Only one person, a cowherd, does not fall under
Lemminkäinen asks Louhi for her daughter, but Louhi demands that he first hunt
and kill the Demon's elk, then the Demon's fire-breathing gelding, and finally the
swan in Tuonela River, which is the boundary between this world and the next. There
the vengeful cowherd kills Lemminkäinen and throws his body into the river.
Lemminkäinen's mother receives a sign of her son's death and goes out in search
of him. She rakes the pieces of her son's body out of Tuonela River, puts them back
together and brings her son back to life.
Väinämöinen begins to build a boat and visits Tuonela in order to
ask for the magic spells needed to finish it. He does not find them. He then seeks
the missing spells from the stomach of the ancient wise man, Antero Vipunen, who
has long been dead. He finds them and finishes his boat.
Väinämöinen sets off in his boat to woo the daughter of Pohjola, but
she chooses instead Ilmarinen, the forger of the Sampo. Ilmarinen successfully performs
the three impossible tasks set before him: he plows a field full of vipers, hunts
down the bear of Tuonela and the wolf of Manala and finally fishes the Great Pike
out of the Tuonela River. Louhi promises her daughter to Ilmarinen.
In Pohjola, preparations are made for the wedding and invitations are sent to all
except Lemminkäinen. The groom and his folk arrive in Pohjola, and there is
great feasting. Väinämöinen entertains the wedding guests with his
singing. The bride and groom are given advice concerning marriage, and the bride
bids farewell to her people and departs with Ilmarinen for Kalevala. There a banquet
is also ready for the guests. Väinämöinen sings the praises of the
Lemminkäinen shows up at the banquet in Pohjola uninvited, and demands food
and drink. He is offered a tankard of beer filled with vipers. Lemminkäinen
engages the master of Pohjola in a singing contest and swordfight and kills him.
Lemminkäinen flees the people of Pohjola who are rising up in arms against him
and hides on Saari Island, living among the maidens of the island until he is forced
to flee once again, this time from the island's jealous menfolk. Lemminkäinen
finds his home in ashes and his mother hiding in a cottage in the forest. Lemminkäinen
sets out to seek revenge on Pohjola, but is forced to return home because a cold
spell cast by the mistress of Pohjola has frozen his ships in the sea.
Brothers Untamo and Kalervo quarrel violently, Kalervo's troop is slain, and of his
kin only his son Kullervo remains. Because of his superhuman powers, Kullervo fails
in every task he is given. Untamo sells the boy to Ilmarinen as a serf. The wife
of Ilmarinen send Kullervo out to be a cowherd and out of spite bakes a stone into
the bread which is his only provisions. Kullervo breaks his knife on the stone while
trying to cut the bread, and in revenge drives the cows into the swamp and brings
home a pack of wild animals instead. The mistress, intending to milk the cows, is
mauled to death. Kullervo flees. He finds his family in the forest, but hears that
his sister has disappeared.
Kullervo's father sends him to pay the taxes. On his return trip, Kullervo unwittingly
seduces his sister, who then drowns herself in the rapids upon discovering the truth.
Kullervo sets out to seek revenge on Untamo. Having killed Untamo and his family,
Kullervo returns home to find his own family dead. Kullervo commits suicide.
Ilmarinen mourns the death of his wife and decides to forge a woman of gold. The
golden maiden remains, however, lifeless and cold. Väinämöinen warns
the young people against worshipping gold.
Ilmarinen is rejected by the youngest daughter of Pohjola and carries her off in
his sleigh. The girl reviles Ilmarinen and so offends him that he finally turns her
into a seagull with his singing. Ilmarinen tells Väinämöinen of the
wealth and prosperity that the Sampo has brought the people of Pohjola.
Väinämöinen, Ilmarinen and Lemminkäinen set out to steal the
Sampo from Pohjola. In the course of the journey, their boat runs aground on the
shoulders of a giant pike. Väinämöinen kills the pike and fashions
a kantele from its jawbone. No one else is able to play the instrument, but Väinämöinen
holds all living things spellbound with his playing.
Väinämöinen puts the people of Pohjola to sleep with his kantele playing
and the Sampo is taken to the travellers' boat and rowed away. The people of Pohjola
awaken and Louhi, the mistress of Pohjola, sends obstacles in the path of the raiders
to hinder their escape. The seafarers survive, but the kantele falls into the sea.
Louhi sets off in pursuit and transforms herself into a giant bird of prey. In the
ensuing battle the Sampo is smashed and falls into the sea. Some of the fragments
remain in the sea, but others wash ashore and bring Finland good fortune and prosperity.
Louhi is left with only the worthless lid of the Sampo and an impoverished land.
In vain, Väinämöinen seeks the kantele which fell into the sea. He
makes a new kantele from birchwood and his playing once again delights the whole
Louhi sends diseases to destroy the people of Kalevala, but Väinämöinen
cures the sick. Louhi sends a bear to attack the Kalevala cattle, but Väinämöinen
slays the bear. The people of Kalevala organize a bear-killing feast.
The mistress of Pohjola hides the sun and the moon inside a hill and steals the fire
as well. Ukko, the supreme god, makes a new sun and moon by striking fire, but the
fire falls to earth, into the belly of a giant fish. Väinämöinen asks
Ilmarinen to go fishing with him. They catch the fish and place the fire in the service
Ilmarinen forges a new sun and moon, but they do not shine. After battling the people
of Pohjola, Väinämöinen returns to ask Ilmarinen to fashion a set
of keys with which to release the sun and moon from Pohjola's mountain. While Ilmarinen
is forging, Louhi sets the sun and moon free to return to their places in the sky.
Marjatta conceives a child from a whortleberry. Her baby boy is born in the forest,
but soon disappears, to be found finally in a swamp. Väinämöinen condemns
the fatherless child to death, but the child speaks out against the sentence and
is christened King of Karelia. Väinämöinen departs in a copper boat
with the prediction that he will be needed again someday to make a new Sampo for
the people, to bring new light and play new songs.