Monday, April 13, 2015

Golden merganser

Annukka ja Samuli Aikio 1982: Tyttö, joka muuttui kultaiseksi koskeloksi : vanhan saamelaisen kansansadun mukaan
Illustrated by Mika Launis
Based on an old Sami folk tale: a girl that turned into a golden merganser.

Naavisemo and Luhtakka are neighbors. Naavisemo has a beautiful daughter, but Luhtakka’s daughter is ugly and vicious. Prince wants to see Naavisemo’s daughter and as soon as he does, he wants to marry her.

Prince sees the beautiful Naavisemo's daughter
Naavisemo’s son and daughter travel to the prince. Naavisemo’s son asks his sister to dress in the most beautiful dress. His sister does not hear him and Luhtakka’s daughter whispers that Naavisemo’s daughter should get dressed and jump in the sea as a golden merganser. She does and Luhtakkas nasty daughter takes her place.

Luhtakka’s daughter arrives in the castle and is taken to the softest bed ever. In the morning when Luhtakka’s daughter is asked, how she slept, she says poorly, because the bed was hard as a rock. The next night more mattresses are put in Luhtakka’s daughter’s bed, but she still thinks it’s too soft. People at the castle realize that all is not right. The old woman of Kentänpää realizes that it is Luhtakka’s daughter and advises to set tree trunks and roots as bed for her. In the morning Luhtakka’s daughter is happy. When she is sent to milk cows, the udders bleed.

The prince gets mad and wants to kill the girl and her brother. Naavisemo’s son tells him about the switch and tells the prince that he should catch the merganser and hold tight. When se shifts into a spindle, he should break it in two and through the other have into the sea and hold on to the other. The prince dresses up as the brother and goes to the shore. The golden merganser rises as Naavisemo’s wonderful daughter. The price grabs her and does as the brother told him. At the end the other half of the spindle becomes a merganser and the Naavisemo’s daughter. She refuses to come to the castle as long as Luhtakka’s daughter is there. The prince burns Luhtakka’s daughter and weds Naavisemo’s daughter.

I particularly like the illustrations of this book. To me they are some what exotic. This book has been published in five different Sami language, Finnish and Swedish. My ignorance shows no limits: I thought there is only one Sami language, but there actually is nine of them (Few are spoken by less than 10 people). I wonder about the names. The daughters' names are not told, only the mothers'. This story has been told in different versions and at the beginning of the book is told that Naavisemo and Luhtakka are mythical characters, from whom the real people and nasty hags stem.

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