Real Name: Vaka Vanha ("Stable Ancient") Väinämöinen
Identity/Class: Divine-born shaman
Occupation: Sage, shaman, bard
Affiliations: In Kalevala, all the other heroes like Lemminkäinen and Ilmarinen; In modern guise, stable gnome Jabe, Ilmarinen Junior, Miriam Puukko (Journalist girlfriend)
Enemies: Louhi the Old Hag of North in Kalevala
Known Relatives: Primal Maiden of Air (mother)
Base of Operations: Finland (originally Karelia)
First Appearance: Väinämöinen is the main character of the Finnish national epic "Kalevala", which was compiled by fennoman folklorist Elias Lönnrot based on Karelian folklore in the 19th century. Modern form; comic strip "Väinämöisen Paluu" (Return of Väinämöinen)
Powers/Abilities: Väinämöinen is a shaman who can entrance any human or animal with his poetic singing. Among other things, he sang his way out of a giant's belly, made Ilmarinen fly with a pine, in one confrontation made him opponent sink to a swamp on the spot and put a whole household of Louhi to sleep. He is also proficient with a sword but prefers to use his power of song instead. He is also effectively immortal.
In modern form, Väinämöinen is also super-strong but does not use it much because, as he says, modern life does not require strength. Note that he was disqualified from the Sydney Olympics because of his natural testosterone level is 400 times that of the mortal human being.
History: (Kalevala) Väinämöinen was born fully grown from the womb of the primal Maiden of Air who had been impregnated by the waves of the sea. Still in the womb, he indirectly contributed to the creation of the world and eventually induced his own birth. He proceeded to build the world with his friend Ilmarinen, a divine smith who built the sky dome, built the first boat (for which he had to get the proper words of power from the earth-giant Antero Vipunen) and the first kantele (Finnish string instrument) which he made out of a jaw-bone of a giant pike. He was also looking for a wife but one particular lady, Aino, preferred to drown herself instead of marrying him.
Louhi, the old Hag of the North promised him one of his daughters if he could make Ilmarinen build Sampo, an item of power that would bring prosperity, but she later delayed the wedding. So Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen decided to take Sampo back; Louhi pursued them but in the fight Sampo fell to the bottom of the sea and was lost.
Väinämöinen left when a girl called Marja (lit. "berry" but a reference to Virgin Mary) became pregnant by eating a berry. He said he would come back when he is needed.
(Väinämöisen Paluu) After a thousand years, Väinämöinen comes back to the modern Finland and proceeds to familiarise himself with the peculiarities of the modern world with the aid of a stable gnome Jabe, hedgehog Untamo and female journalist Miriam Puukko. He also has a perspective of more than a thousand years; when others hark for a simpler, ancient times, he thinks that the fact that widespread epidemics, constant raiding and various bloodthirsty practices have disappeared is actually a good thing.
Comments: Although Väinämöinen is a legendary folklore hero, it is probable that Lönnrot chose the tales of his compilation to his liking and therefore "Kalevala" is effectively his work.
Petri Hiltunen's "Väinämöisen Paluu" is a regular newspaper strip in various Finnish newspapers. The strip comments the aspects of modern Finnish life from the preoccupation to ice hockey to peculiarities of the media and newly rich.
"Stable gnome" was a legendary creature that supposedly helped to maintain various aspects of farming in historical Finland; stable, barns and saunas had their own diminutive "guardians" who kept the place in good condition in exchange of gifts of food. If he was angered, he could burn the place down or cause some other catastrophe.
Profile by Vesa Lehtinen.
CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with
Vain, enemy of the Watch
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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