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Antropologicheskij forum, 2015, no. 27
A Review of ALEKSEY KONKKA, KARSIKKO: DEREVYA-ZNAKI V OBRYADOVOY PRAKTIKE I VEROVANIYAKH PRIBALTIYSKO-FINSKIKH NARODOV [KARSIKKO: “TREE-SIGNS” IN RITUAL PRACTICE AND FAITH OF THE BALTIC FINNS]. Petrozavodsk: Petrozavodsk State University Press, 2013, 206 pp.
Russian Museum of Ethnography
Abstract: This review examines the monograph оf renowned specialist in Karelian ethnography, Alexei Konkka, published in 2013. The work is dedicated to a subject extremely important in respect to academic research and very interesting from a broader historical and cultural perspective. It is the first completely original ethnological research work on karsikko or “tree-sign”, which is a distinctive phenomenon of Baltic Finnish culture, but nevertheless, rarely studied. Based on the evident universality of the plants’ cult and the World tree motif, the author chose to research the complex of beliefs, customs, and life circle rituals, as well as calendar, hunting and fishing rites, of Finns, Karelians, Saami, Estonians, etc., in which this polysemantic symbol of the spirit-protector figures. The author bases his book on over thirty years of fieldwork finding and describing the karsikko in situ from northern Norway to the Middle Volga region (in total about 1000 objects), compiling an impressive corpus of archival documentation from Russia and Finland, and research in both languages. The main result of his work is defining the territory of Northern Europe where the phenomenon in question existed. He also compares available data with sources on other regional traditions to clarify issues of origin and diachronic evolution of various forms of the “tree-sign”. In spite of inexactitudes found in his research methodology, importance of A. Konkka’s work is evident, not only for current Finno-Ugric studies, but also for European regional studies in general, mainly in those areas which have long been integrated in the international research of mythology of the Northern Eurasia.
Keywords: tree-sign, ritual culture, Baltic Finns, phenomenon, universality.
To cite: Fishman O., 'A Review of Aleksey Konkka, Karsikko: Derevya-znaki v obryadovoy praktike i verovaniyakh pribaltiysko-finskikh narodov [Karsikko: “Tree-Signs” in Ritual Practice and Faith of the Baltic Finns]. Petrozavodsk: Petrozavodsk State University Press, 2013, 206 pp.', Antropologicheskij forum, 2015, no. 27, pp. 237–248.
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