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Kuzova Isles: an Ancient Saami Pantheon
November 9, 2009 23:10

The archipelago of Kuzova, famous for the incredible beauty of its sights, is a group of islands in the White Sea on the route from the town of Kem to Solovki Isles. The title of the archipelago is tied with a Karelian word kuusi, denoting spruce (compare with Finnish kuusesta), so it means "The spruce isles". The archipelago includes uninhabited 16 domelike isles covered with spruce forests and spots of lichens, varied in color. The biggest isles are Russky Kuzov and Nemetsky Kuzov. Kuzova are well-known not only because of their nature, but also because of the ceremonial artifacts preserved there from the ancient times: labyrinths made of stones, sacred stones and early man sites.

1. Nature
As it was already mentioned, the archipelago consists of 16 domelike isles. They are as it were the failed volcanoes. The glowing lava rose from the bowels of the Earth but did not explode, having only lifted oceanic bottom, and so appeared the domes of the Kuzova isles. These domes are made of the pink granite. The fauna of the isles is presented by the birds and sea animals. The most massed specie is mew, but auk, willow goose, tystie, eider duck are to be seen on the isles as well. The biggest rookery of the auk of the White Sea is situated here. What about the sea animals, you can see the ringed seal, bearded seal or the sea hare and the white whale near the isles. The white whale is a sort of dolphin, rare but communicative specie. All these animals can be seen during al the summer period.

2. Sacred objects, made of stones: seita and labyrinths
The main tourist attraction of the Kuzova Isles is sacred objects, made of stones by the Saami people, appeared here 2 – 2,5 thousands years ago. The biggest complex, a real pantheon, is situated on the top of the Nemetsky Kuzov. There are several types of these objects: seita, idol like rustic sculptures and labyrinths. Seita(finnish Sieidi) is a votive composition made of stones, which stands on the seashore, providing good luck to the sailors and fishermen. Usually it is a rather big boulder, put on the legs, smaller ones. The boulder is crowned with several stones put one upon the other, and pebbles, scattered upon the upper surface of the boulder.

The second ones are very roughly manufactured sculptures, representing human busts. The local public calls them Petrified Nemtsy (Germans). There is a legend, founded on the events of the early 17th century. It was in the Time of Troubles, when Russia became the target of an intervention because of the dynastic and economic crisis. The Swedish detachment was going to attack the Solovetsky monastery but had to stay on one of the Kuzova Isles because of the severe storm. Some European nations, including the Swedes, were called in the Middle Ages and early New Time "Nemtsy" by the Russians. This word means now the German, earlier it meant "the foreigner", but initially it means "mute".

Nevertheless, the Swedes stuck on the isles and could not assault a fortress of the Solovetsky monastery, which deserves an individual article. According to the legend, some detachment of Nemtsy was simply going to attack Solovetsky monastery. One day they were having the dinner, and at that moment the God decided to chasten them and turned them into stones. So they are still sitting there. The historical event and the Saami popular belief, that the human can be turned into a stone are mixed in this rather late legend. These stones have the smaller ones on their tops, presenting the head. Some of them have "hands", the spool-shaped stones, standing next to the "body" of the sitting warrior.

What about the labyrinths, the scientists are still arguing what they should mean. What did the people mean when they laid out the narrow paths of the stones? The Irish and English legends have it that the small people danced on these paths in the moonlight. The Scandinavian ones suppose that the giants made such spiral paths and that they sign the entrances to the underground palaces. Anyway, the spirals and labyrinths of the British Isles, Scandinavia and the Russian North must be a work of the same culture.

3. How to get
This is a tricky question. Some tours in Karelia include visiting of the Kuzova Isles nature reserve. The town Kem is available by train, and the train tickets can be booked and bought through our site.

Yulia Buzykina


Tags: Karelia     

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