Elsa Salonen


HD video, spotlights
2019, duration 10:23

Before the Christian era, large, irregular rocks were worshipped with great respect widely in Finland. The might of ancient stones, and in the process the interdependence of everything, was taken into account by both Finnish and Sámi traditions. Finns, for example, engraved cup-shaped holes into their divine stones, since the rain water accumulated in the holes was believed to have healing powers or they gave offerings to stones in order to ensure a good harvest. The Sámi, on the other hand, brought offerings such as part of the fish catch or deer horns to their sacred stones, to ensure, good fishing or hunting fortune or to keep reindeer herds safe.

The video Kivijumalia (Stone Gods) is based on the Finnish Literature Society's archive material. Through century-old photos and interviews it presents stories of ten different sacred stones, five from the Finnish and five from the Sámi traditions. 

Collaboration / music: Islaja
Thematic consultancy / sacred stones: The Archive of the Finnish Literature Society and The Finnish Heritage Agency
Thematic consultancy / Sámi perspective: Aslak Holmberg, The Sámi Parliament of Finland, Chair of the Cultural Committee 2016-2019 and photographer Lada Suomenrinne
Exhibition views: Schwartzsche Villa, Berlin, 2019 / Photographer: Ludger Paffrath

There is a stone, about four cubic meters in size, on the border between Ruskeala and Harju parish. A deceased grandmother has told of this stone being a former sacrificial stone and that it’s called Kakrakivi. In the old days, when she was still a child, it was customary to bring offerings for the sprites of this stone; bread, grains, liquor, pies, etc. But I don't remember which time of the year and for what purpose.

Harlu, Juvonen Edvard, 1937