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Characters / The Kalevala

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See also Finnish Mythology.

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Väinämöinen is the central character of The Kalevala, a shamanistic hero with a magical power of song and music.Väinämöinen created and plays the kantele, a Finnish stringed instrument that resembles and is played like a zither. One of his potential brides, Joukahainen's sister Aino, drowns herself instead of marrying him. He is the leading member of the group which steals The Sampo from the people of Pohjola.

  • Animorphism: Transforms into a snake to escape the underworld.
  • The Archmage: Kalevala does not have that title, but he fits pretty much all aspects.
  • Blow You Away: He makes winds to blow Ilmarinen to Pohjola.
  • Divine Parentage: Son of goddess/Spirit Ilmatar.
  • Freudian Trio: Superego of him, Ilmarinen and Lemminkäinen.
  • Large Ham: Boasts that with his new sword made by Ilmarinen he can cut the mountains.
  • Magic Music: as used by the sage Väinämöinen, whose kantele is made from the jawbone of a giant pike.
  • Meaningful Name: Derived from Väinä, which means stream pool.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: Eagle saves Väinämöinen from drowning.
  • Semi-Divine: Son of goddess.
  • Swallowed Whole: He gets swallowed by giant Antero Vipunen.
  • To Hell and Back: He travels to Tuonela, the realm of the dead, and escapes even though they try to keep him. Almost true for Lemminkäinen, too, when he hunts for the Swan of Tuonela, but Lemminkäinen does not enter Tuonela proper.
  • Walking the Earth: Pretty much what he does, although he does have an identity and some friends.
  • Wizard Beard: Väinämöinen is an archetype.
  • Wizard Duel: With Joukahainen
  • Wizards Live Longer: He was born 30 years old, and that's just the beginning.

Seppo Ilmarinen is a heroic artificer. He crafted the dome of the sky, The Sampo and various other magical devices featured in The Kalevala. Ilmarinen is the second member of the group who steal the Sampo.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Ilmarinen's wife is killed by bears.
  • The Blacksmith: Ilmarinen is a masterful metalworker.
  • Happily Married: In Kalevala standards, regardless of Jerkass tendencies of Maiden of Northland they were both satisfied and devoted to their marridge.
  • The Lancer: To Väinämöinen
  • Love Makes You Crazy: After his wife's death he stole her sister to replacement, but she wasn't like her so Ilmarinen chanced her into a seagull. He also crafted himself a new wife of gold and silver.
    • Replacement Goldfish: After his wife's death, Ilmarinen makes himself a new one out of gold and silver, but discards her soon afterwards.
  • The Maker: He crafted the dome of the sky and the forged the Sampo.
  • Meaningful Name: Derived from word Ilma, meaning air. He was formerly a weather god but became a mortal when Finns adapted Ukko under Scandinavian influence of Thor.
  • Ego: Of Him, Väinömöinen and Lemminkäinen.
  • Responsible Sibling: Of him and Annikki.
  • Non-Action Guy: The one that usually doesn't fight.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Ilmarinen's greatest creations are the dome of the sky and the Sampo.

Lemminkäinen, a handsome, arrogant and reckless ladies-man, is the son of Lempi (English: lust or favourite). He shares a very close relationship with his mother, who revives him after he has been drowned in the river of Tuonela while pursuing the object of his romantic desires. Lemminkäinen is the third member of the group which steals the Sampo from Pohjola.

Kullervo is the vengeful, mentally ill and tragic son of Kalervo. He was abused by his uncle Untamo as a child and sold into slavery to Ilmarinen. He is put to work and treated badly by Ilmarinen's wife whom he later kills. Kullervo is a misguided and troubled youth often at odds with himself and his situation. He often goes into berserk rage and in the end commits suicide.
  • Anti-Hero: To the point of almost crossing over to Sociopathic Hero.
  • The Beastmaster: Summons bears to kill Maiden of Northland, and wolves to kill Untamo.
  • Berserk Button: His knife breaks on a stone which Ilmarinen's wife has baked into his bread. The knife being the only possession he still had from his family, he snaps and summons packs of bears and wolves from the forest, which tear the jerkass mistress to pieces.
  • The Berserker: Is very unstable and mentally ill.
  • Born into Slavery: Only remaining member of his family, instantly taken to work as a slave to Untamo.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Kullervo seduces a maiden who turns out to be his long-lost sister.
  • Butt-Monkey: Almost all the bad things imaginable happens to him.
  • The Corruption: Since birth.
  • Death Is Cheap: The beginning of the Kullervo arc establishes that all of Kullervo's clan is dead except Kullervo's mother. Yet after Kullervo has run away from slavery, he suddenly discovers that his parents, as well as a brother and a sister, are alive. No explanation is given of how they did survive, why everyone thought they were dead, or how his mother escaped from slavery. But it's good for the plot.
  • Determinator: Is tried to kill several times during working for Untamo, but is too strong for anyone to be able to kill him.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the end.
  • Incest Is Relative: With his sister.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Obsessed with revenge, driven mad by ongoing abuse since birth, often goes to berserk rage and kills lots of people.
  • Revenge: An overarching theme in the story of Kullervo, who is more than anything driven by his (eventually self-destructive) desire for revenge.
  • Talking Weapon: Kullervo's black sword, which indicates it is perfectly willing to kill him. This is possibly the Ur Example of this trope.
  • Tragic Hero: Ultimately.

Joukahainen is the rival of the main character, Väinämöinen. After losing a singing contest, he pledges his sister Aino to Väinämöinen, but she drowns herself rather than marry him. Joukahainen, still envious of Väinämöinen, then shoots the stag of his rival from under him, plunging him into the waters of Pohjola.

Louhi is a queen of Northland in Finnish mythology and the mythology of Lapland.


     Maiden of Northland 
Louhi's daughter.

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 the storied Väinämöinen, promised Aino's "hands and feet" in marriage if Väinämöinen would save him from drowning in the swamp into which Joukahainen had been sung. 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. However, she returned to taunt the grieving Väinämöinen as a salmon.

In the Kalevala, Kyllikki is a young beautiful maiden living on the Island (Saari). Lemminkäinen travels to Saari to woo ladies, Kyllikki is the only one that isn't that easy and Lemminkäinen kidnaps her.

Evil Uncle of Kullervo.

  • Cain and Abel: With Kalervo as Abel and Untamo as Cain.
  • Evil Uncle: To Kullervo.
  • Genocide Backfire: Untamo kills his brother Kalervo and his family over neighborhood squabbles, leaving only a pregnant woman alive. The woman gives birth to Kullervo, who grows up planning vengeance on Untamo.
  • Karma Houdini: By Kullervo.
  • Sibling Rivalry: With Kalervo

Tiera is friend of Lemminkäinen and always eagerly goes to war or fighting with him.


Sister of Ilmarinen. Sometimes also called Ainikki. Kalevala includes at least two Annikki's, another one might be Tapio's daughter, and then there is Ainikki, Lemminkäinen's sister, who is sometimes called Annikki too, also Kullervo's sister's name is Annikki.

  • Dark Is Not Evil: Described somewhat shadowy character, although associated more with the twilight than actual darkness or night.
  • Foolish Sibling: Curious, pushy.

Ilmarinen's mother.

Kullervo's sister.

Wet-behind-the-ears-Lapp, or in Finnish Märkäkorva Lappalainen or Märkähattu is a character from Northland who lives near river Tuoni.

Father of Kullervo

Sometimes called also Annikki, Lemminkäinen's sister.

  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Much like Kyllikki, she likes dansing and playing around the village, and is sometimes also there with Kyllikki.


In the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, Ilmatar was a virgin spirit of the air.

  • Beauty = Goodness: She is pretty like most benevolent goddesses, and she isn't even prone to get angered.
  • Big Good: Takes part in creation of the world, acts as guide to Väinämöinen.
  • The Ingenue: Virgin air spirit, no husband unlike nearly all other Finnish goddesses that are not of younger generation.
  • Light 'em Up: She appears surrounded with shining aura.
  • Light Is Good: She wears white and when appearing is sometimes surrounded by light/ shining aura. She is very benevolent and her purposes despite the passivity are good.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: Ilmatar carried Väinämöinen for centuries.
  • Magical Guide:
  • The Maker: She is the creator goddess.
  • Neutral Goddess: She doesn't do much after the creation of world and she never appears to mortals.
  • Time Abyss: She is one of the oldest beings.
  • Truly Single Parent: Impregnated by primal waters.
  • Virgin Power: Virgin air spirit with a part in the creation of the world.
  • White Magician Girl: Spirit/goddess, but anyway.


Surma is a terrible beast, embodies sudden, violent death and guards the gates of the Tuonela to prevent escape. It is often described as being a large dog with a snake-tail and can turn you into stone (with a stare). An often-used Finnish metaphor is surman suuhun "into Surma's mouth", as if the victim was mauled to death by Surma.
  • Canis Major: Huge monster dog.
  • The Dreaded: Old Finnish saying "Surman suuhun" (literally "into Surma's mouth") means dying and is derived from his name.
  • Hellhound: Huge monster dog guarding the gates of underworld.

     Tuonen Tytti 
Tuonen Tytti is the Ferryman of Finnish mythology.

     Tuonen Poika 
A bloody creature that defends the gates of Tuonela.

     Antero Vipunen 
Antero Vipunen is a giant who is buried underground and possesses some very valuable ancient incantations.

     Sampsa Pellervoinen 
Sampsa Pellervoinen is a mythological person from Finnish mythology, who sows all vegetation on earth, all the forests, swamps, meadows, and rock lands too.

  • Pretty Boy: Sampsa is commonly described as a slender youth carrying either a bag or a basket around his neck, in one story four different ladies are into him.
  • The Maker: The creator of vegetation.

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