Saturday, 29 October 2011

Bear Essentials

Had an interesting chat this afternoon with this gentleman down by the harbour, where he was carving small wooden bears. Carving these particular style of bears is a Finnish traditional craft, and actually is shared across much of the north of Scandinavia and Russia. Each country region has a slightly different style with their bears, and it's an art form that is re-emerging in popularity. The bears are magical and powerful creatures in many legends in these parts. One story he told was of how after hunting a bear for food, the skull would be placed up high on a tree so that the bear's spirit would return up to Ursa Major constellation, signalling more bears to the area and to protect the tribe.

Other things we learned: the Russian style of bear tends to be more aggressive in appearance; willow is a great wood for doing the carving, because, while it's not necessarily a soft wood, it's very "even" and doesn't crack or chip. Also, his best carving knife has a harder cutting edge on a softer blade. Finally, the knife is from Sweden, marking one of the few times I've heard a Finn speak favourably of anything Swedish!

This has nothing to do with this particular post. But since we got a picture of the Canadian embassy in Tallinn, Estonia, why not get a picture of the Canadian embassy here in Helsinki?