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Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Lemminkäinen's Mother (1897)

(Ateneum, Helsinki, Finland)
A painting by the Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865 – 1931) . This painting shows an episode from the Finish national epic, the Kalevala, In the story the warrior Lemminkäinen wanted a daughter of Louhi, the wicked queen of the land of Pohjola, as his wife. In order to win the affection Lemminkäinen had to perform a serie of tasks, one of them killing the swan of Tuonela, the realm of the dead. A rival however managed to kill Lemminkäinen and threw the body in the black Tuoni rivier of the realm of the dead. Lemminkäinen's Mother, the mother of Akseli stood model for her, gathered the pieces of her son from the river of Tuonela and sewn them together again. In the painting she is waiting for the the bee, a messenger of the god Ukko, the god of the sky, weather, harvest and thunder, to bring her the honey from the gods so she can bring him Lemminkäinen back to life again. The swan of Tuonela can be seen in the upper left corner. Painting from 18…

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