Kontokki and Kostamus
Kuivajärvi and Hietajärvi

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While most of the poetry collectors from Sjögren and Lönnrot on visited Jyvöälahti, the village's place in the cultural history of the region was perhaps best ensured by the photographer I.K. Inha. Inha and his companion, the linguist Kusti Karjalainen, used the village as their base during the several months they spent in Viena in 1894. It was from here that they set out to explore other villages. Inha took more photographs in Jyvöälahti than in any other village. For example, he staged a wedding there, and the series of photographs he took and the account written by K.F. Karjalainen are irreplaceable sources of information for researchers interested in wedding traditions in Viena.

For the earliest poetry collectors, Jyvöälahti was generally only a place to stop briefly or to spend the night, since it had no well-known shamans or bards. Sjögren visited the village in 1825; Fellman came in 1829. Lönnrot passed through on his fifth (1834), sixth (1835) and seventh (1836) field trips.

Lönnrot's descriptions of Jyvöälahti are rather scanty. On the last two of his field trips he mentions it only as a stop on the way, and his first visit certainly failed to impress him:

We arrived in Jyvöälahti at midnight or shortly thereafter, knocked on the door of one house and were taken in. They hurried to make us beds on the floor. Unlike us, the people in this area do not make their beds out of straw that is brought in every evening but use reindeer skins and cloth, which they don't put any cover over....

I left Jyvöälahti the next morning for Uhtua.

His account on the return journey is even more terse:

I came from Uhtua to Jyvöälahti again, where I only spent a very short while, since I was only able to find one bard and not even a very good one at that.

Castrén also visited Jyvöälahti, in 1839, but collected just as little material as the others.

The next generation of poetry collectors fared no better in their efforts in the village - not even Borenius, Berner and Genetz were successful, who sought out previously unrecorded poems, however fragmentary. In fact, Borenius mentions Jyvöälahti as a poor place to collect poetry.


Juvelius (1886) and Sparre and Wikström (1892) visited Jyvöälahti before Inha and Karjalainen did but were unimpressed, although they did comment on how friendly and tidy the people were:

I have to make some sketches before we can go on. We walked through the entire village but saw nothing worth recording in our notes... The original, beautiful carvings in wood which one sees to the south are nowhere to be seen here - not in the logs in the walls or the clothes beaters - nowhere. There was nothing interesting in the church or the graveyard either. (Sparre)

Preserved tšasouna

The church is gone but the tšasouna (Orthodox chapel) in present-day Jyvöälahti is extremely interesting, for it is the only one in Viena that has been preserved at least in some measure. Unfortunately, decades of use as a residence have left its mark. Restoration work is scheduled for the turn of the millennium if funding can be secured.

Another very interesting building in Jyvöälahti is a well-reserved granary which differs in shape and height from other granaries in Viena.

Today Jyvöälahti is significant among the larger villages in Viena for having best preserved its houses and village profile. The village was at its largest in the late 1930, when it had over 70 houses.

What to see