Artwork in the school

AINO, 2017 

Hideki Iinuma

In the Kalevala, Aino is the sister of Joukahainen, one of the heroes of the epic. However, Aino is not mentioned in the folk poetry that the Kalevala was based on. Elias Lönnrot, who compiled the Kalevala, created the character out of many separate excerpts of poems, and also created a new female given name for Finnish, deriving Aino from Ainokainen. 

Joukahainen, the "puny son of Lapland", is defeated by Väinämöinen in a contest of magical song and finds himself sinking into a mire.  Joukahainen saves himself by promising his sister's hand in marriage to Väinämöinen. Aino is horrified to learn that she has been betrothed to the old sage.

Her mother does not understand Aino's feelings, and only wonders why the girl is crying. They will soon have a great sage in the family, after all. While crying on the shore, Aino sees the maids of Vellamo bathing in the lake and decides to join them. She leaves behind her full dress, wades into the water and also turns into a maid of Vellamo, a kind of mermaid.

Väinämöinen grieves the loss of Aino. Guided by a prophetic dream, he sets out to fish Aino back from the waters. The sage fishes up a salmon, but does not recognize it as Aino, and he loses her once again. For the second and last time.

I am not a water-salmon,

Not a perch from deepest water,

But a young and lovely maiden,

Youthful Joukahainen's sister,

Whom thou all thy life hast longed for,

Whom thou hast so long desired.

Japanese artist Hideki Iinuma has depicted precisely the moment where Aino rises from the waters, carried by a king salmon. Her hand is raised in triumph. She is wearing a green polo shirt with a white hare on the front. Neither the bear, nor the wolf, nor the fox would take the mournful tidings to Aino's mother, so it fell to the hare to deliver the news. After hearing of Aino's fate, her mother cried bitter tears and warned other mothers from betrothing their daughters against their will. For matters of love cannot be forced.

Never, O unhappy mothers, never while your life endureth,

Never may you urge your daughters, or attempt to force your children,

To a marriage that repels them, like myself, O wretched mother,

Urging vainly thus my daughter, thus my little dove I fostered.


HIDEKI IINUMA (born 1975) was born in Nagano, studied sculpting in Paris, among others, and is now living in Tokyo. His sculptures are made of painted solid wood, in this case sawtooth oak. 



Hideki Iinuma

The daughters of Louhi living in Pohjola were fantastically beautiful haltijas, guardians who sat on top of the rainbow, weaving gold and silver threads. The oldest of the daughters is the most independent: she decides for herself who she wishes to marry, and is an equal partner to Ilmarinen. Ilmarinen is one of the great heroes of the Kalevala, a smith who forged the celestial bodies, as well as the Sampo, a wondrous source of endless salt, flour and riches.

They have their wedding in Pohjola, and the daughter bids farewell to her parents, sisters and childhood home.

Now farewell to all things round me, berry-bearing fields and forests,

And the flower-bearing roadsides, and the heaths o'ergrown with heather,

And the lakes with hundred islands, and the depths where swim the powans,

And the fair hills with fir-trees, and the swampy ground with birch-trees.

Japanese artist Hideki Iinuma depicts Ilmarinen's wife as a young maiden clad in a blue dress. Beneath her feet are the symbols of air and water, an eagle and a great pike. They refer to the final task of Ilmarinen, who has come to ask for the maiden's hand. Louhi demanded that Ilmarinen catch the pike of Tuonela without a snare or drag-net or tackle. The daughter of Pohjola advised him to forge a fiery eagle. With it, the smith succeeded in his task and was granted the beautiful maiden's hand in marriage. In Iinuma's sculpture, she stands atop an eagle with a knowing expression, arms crossed in front of her.

In the Kalevala, the description of the maiden changes when she gets settled into Ilmarinen's house. The wise and beautiful maiden becomes the "smith's wife, old and jeering". One of the explanations for this has been that Elias Lönnrot, who gathered the poems for the Kalevala, compiled the epic by combining different poems. As such, the description could be for a character taken from a different story. The "smith's old wife" suffers a terrible fate after she bakes a stone into the bread of Kullervo, who has been sent to herd cattle. When cutting the bread, Kullervo breaks the knife that is his only memento from his father. This is too much for the suffering youth, and he sends a pack of angry beasts to slay Ilmarinen's wife.


HIDEKI IINUMA (born 1975) was born in Nagano, studied sculpting in Paris, among others, and is now living in Tokyo. His sculptures are made of painted solid wood, in this case cypress. 


Hideki Iinuma

In the Kalevala, Kullervo's sister becomes lost in the woods. There, she wanders aimlessly without shelter or direction. In the woods, she encounters Kullervo, who self-importantly brags about his riches and tries to seduce the beautiful girl. Kullervo believes he has won himself a beautiful bride, but much to the horror of both youths, they are siblings and related by blood. This eventually drives both of them to end their lives.

Kullervo tells his mother:

Thereupon to death she cast her,

Plunged herself into destruction,

In the furious foaming cataract,

And amid the raging whirlpool.

Japanese artist Hideki Iinuma makes sculptures depicting women, whose models he usually finds on the streets, in advertisements, or in pictures on social media. The sculptures depicting women in the Kalevala were inspired by the Kalevala Society's Artists' Kalevala series of exhibitions. Kullervo's sister is depicted here as a ballerina wearing red trousers, more resembling a dancer from eastern lands than a light-haired youth lost in the woods. The maiden sculpted out of cypress does not look like she is about to dive into the raging rapids. In her hand is a knife or dagger, perhaps the same family heirloom that Kullervo had received from his father.


HIDEKI IINUMA (born 1975) was born in Nagano, studied sculpting in Paris, among others, and is now living in Tokyo. 


Hideki Iinuma

Kyllikki was known as the beautiful flower of Saari. She was the daughter of a wealthy family who loved dancing and having fun with her friends. The handsome Lemminkäinen is immediately popular among the Saari girls, but Kyllikki does not care for the impoverished war hero. Lemminkäinen forces her to come with him and boasts that he will achieve great wealth and fame with his sword. 

At first, Kyllikki is upset at having to be wed to such an insignificant man, known as a womanizer and warrior. In the end, though, she accepts Lemminkäinen's proposal, but only on the condition that he will no longer go to war. After all, who would wish such danger upon the one they love? For her part, she is ready to give up the village dances.

But before long, Kyllikki gets tired of waiting for her husband who is out fishing and breaks her promise:

On a certain day it happened, as was usual in the evenings,

All the girls had met for pleasure, on a lovely space of heathland,

Kyllikki was first among them, she the far-famed Flower of Saari.

This angers Lemminkäinen, and he departs on a dangerous journey to Pohjola, to propose to the maid of Pohja. There, Louhi gives him three tasks, each more difficult than the last. And finally comes the day when Kyllikki notices that blood is dripping from Lemminkäinen's comb. Something terrible has happened. Lemminkäinen's mother leaves to go after her son and scours the pieces of her son from the river of Tuonela. The story does not say what happens to Kyllikki.

Japanese artist Hideki Iinuma's sculpture depicts Kyllikki dancing on the shore of the river of Tuonela. The Swan of Tuonela can be seen on the far side of the river. Slaying the swan was one of Lemminkäinen's tasks for the daughter of Pohjola. The bird is pure, white, graceful and innocent, much like the young woman, depicted dancing and wearing a tutu. On the other side are a bow, kantele and the Hiisi's elk slain by Lemminkäinen. A "serpent of the water" is seen slithering above. The cowherd Märkäpaimen shot it into Lemminkäinen's chest before he could get his hands on the swan.


HIDEKI IINUMA (born 1975) was born in Nagano, studied sculpting in Paris, among others, and is now living in Tokyo. His sculptures are made of painted solid wood, in this case cypress. 


Hideki Iinuma

Kalevala depicts numerous failed journeys for courtship. Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen both try their hands at completing various heroic deeds when courting the daughters of Pohjola. But succeeding at those deeds does not guarantee that their journey would be a success. Louhi, the Mistress of Pohjola, came up with terribly difficult tasks to get rid of the men. She had two daughters who were famous for their intelligence and beauty throughout the realm. They spend their time sitting on an "arch of air", weaving threads of gold and silver. The arch has been thought to describe a rainbow, among other things.

And beheld a glorious rainbow;

On the arch a maiden seated

As she wove a golden fabric.

As the silver comb resounded.

The daughters also had a will of their own. So, one of them gives Ilmarinen advice on how to survive from the deeds of ploughing a field of vipers, hunting the bear of Tuonela, capturing the wolves of Manala and catching the pike of Tuoni. She wished to be Ilmarinen's wife, as she found him to be honest, respectable and a hard-working smith. The other sister stays on her rainbow, weaving the golden threads of knowledge and life.

Japanese sculptor Hideki Iinuma depicts Pohjola's daughter as steadfast and dignified, but her expression is melancholic or slightly sullen. The sculpture is made out of linden, which is light, soft and tends to not develop cracks. The surface of the wood has a light colour, and here it is almost entirely unprocessed. The maiden has several objects in her lap. Can you tell what parts of the Kalevala they are referring to?


HIDEKI IINUMA (born 1975) was born in Nagano, studied sculpting in Paris, among others, and is now living in Tokyo. His sculptures are made of painted solid wood, in this case linden. 

Päivitetty 23.08.2021 klo 14:21