Kontokki and Kostamus
Kuivajärvi and Hietajärvi

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In Lönnrot's time, Ponkalahti was a very small village, with only four or five houses.

Lönnrot passed through Ponkalahti on his fourth field trip, which marked his first visit to Vuokkiniemi. He had pleasant memories of the village:

I came to Ponkalahti late in the evening and my hosts asked me immediately if I would like to bathe. I thought they had already heated the sauna and was surprised when I noticed they were heating it just for me. This is how friendly the people are everywhere here. Their normal hospitality includes food, a sauna and lingonberries, but I doubt they have enough berries to last the entire year.

Lönnrot continued his journey the next day to Vuonninen and engaged two brothers to row him the 20 km. He put the age of the older of the two at between 15 and 20 years, that of the younger at 7 or 8 years.

On the way, the older of the boys, when he heard Lönnrot was collecting poetry, expressed his bewilderment that anyone should have to travel for such a purpose. He proceeded to sing parts of the poems about Väinämöinen, Joukahainen and Lemminkäinen, adding that anyone could sing as much as he did if they only took the trouble to do so.

Lönnrot noticed that the poems which the boy sang differed in many respects from the ones he knew and got him to "take the trouble" to sing by offering him an extra 20 kopeks in addition to the fee he had agreed to pay him for rowing. The younger brother, also wanting to make some money, promised to tell Lönnrot a tale if he would give him one "rossa" (a two-kopeck coin):

I promised him two if he would only wait until I finished writing down the poems his brother had sung. He agreed to this at first, but when we were only 2 or 3 km from our destination and I was still writing down what the brother had sung, he started to cry. I had to stop recording the poems and focus on his tale.

Lönnrot was somewhat suspicious of the boy's offer but, when he heard the tale, he was impressed by its style and by the manner in which it was presented:

In one part of the tale, where the boy wanted to describe a bird flying higher and higher until it was out of sight, he did it as follows: "Rose, rose, rose, rose, rose" and "flew, flew, flew, flew, flew". When saying these words, he lowered his voice from the first 'rose' and first 'flew' onwards, so that by the last word in each series it was just as difficult to hear his voice as it would have been to see a bird flying as high as he was trying to describe it flying.

Over four decades later, in 1877, Borenius "discovered" the older of the two brothers, whose bardic talents had improved further. The brother was 61 at the time, meaning he had been 17 when Lönnrot met him, and his name was Huotari Prokkonen.


What to see