Before the advent of the written word, storytellers had to use creative methods to ensure that their stories were not forgotten. That is why they introduced alliteration, rhythm, hymns and repetitions. The verses would be sang or repeated in the kind of droning voices that monks use to remember long texts. This is how the Edda, the Iliad, Beowulf and Ramayana survived until the stories could be written down. This is also the story of Finland's national epic, the Kalevala. All over Finland "rune songs" with different stories were sung from 1000 B.C until the 1500's when the Lutheran Church following the Reformation, banned them as being pagan. Although the tradition soon disappeared from the western parts of Finland, there was a foothold of the songs and singers in Karelia and in Archangel's Karelia on the Russian side. A few of these songs were recorded in the 1600's, but it is thanks to Elias Lönnrot and his eleven trips to the region that we have the Kalevala with the rune songs from the last generation of singers. A Finnish family may not be intimately familiar with the Kalevala but it is constantly reminded of it through hundreds of names, - even a harvester and an icebreaker, all bearing names relating to Kalevala. The maxi cards displayed commemorate two of the greatest rune singers of Finland.
Pedri Semeikka (1821 or 1825 – 1915) was a famous rune singer in the border regions of Karelia. Besides his poems, he was famous for his impressive incantations.
Larin Paraske (December 27, 1833 – January 3, 1904) was an Izhorian oral poet. She was the foremost rune singer and legend teller of Finland. She is considered a key figure in Finnish folk poetry and has been called the "Finnish Mnemosyne”. Paraske is also one of the people on stamps of Finland.
These stamps on the maximum cards were issued on the occasion of The 150th Anniversary of the Kalevala. These important maxi cards in Finnish culture were given to me by my dear friend Merja.