The 4 Winds Hat of Lapland

4 winds hat - posted

As a young ‘un back in the home country TRH used to hang out with a group of friends. They got up to all sorts of mischief, as young lads are wont to do. Living in a small country town surrounded by farms, gave them lots of scope and space to roam. They earned themselves quite a reputation for being a gang of no hopers who would never amount to anything in their lives. There was lots of tut-tutting and shaking of heads amongst those who kept a keen eye on the goings on of the lads. One enterprising old dear even took it into her head to furtively scoot around after them on a bicycle. She probably hoped that her fact finding missions would ensure she had first hand knowledge of their shenanigans and an improved  status in the local neighbourhood snoop society. I understand she was not often rewarded for her enthusiasm.

TRH grew up in Himanka, a rural community on the north western coast of Finland about 300 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle.  His parents owned a small dairy farm. He was driving tractors and turning sod before his feet could reach the tractor pedals. The trick was to jump off the seat, land on the pedals, change gears, before the pedals booted him back up to the seat. At least that’s how I imagine it would have gone from his description of it. He got so good at tractoring he won competitions and the local farmers hired him to work their fields. By day he drove to school by tractor to announce his arrival to the fair sex.

TRH moved to Australia with his family as a sixteen year old. The destination was Mt Isa, a mining town in northern Queensland. His maternal grandfather lived there and the family wanted to spend time getting to know him. They left Himanka in the dead of winter when the temperature was over 40 below zero. And arrived in the heat of summer  in Mt Isa to be hit by a blast furnace of over 40 above zero.

The four winds hat he is wearing in the photo was a parting gift from his gang of no hoper friends. (I would like to add in here, in their defence, that when the no hopers matured, one became a policeman, one a minister of religion, the rest assorted business owners and upstanding citizens of their communities. So much for the tut-tuttin nay sayers!)  Each corner of the hat has one of his friend’s names embroidered on it. Some years after we were married, friends visiting Finland brought me back a different, more colourful version, so we have one each. The style, colours and bandings on the hats are the Laplanders’ equivalent of Scottish clans’ tartans.

4 winds hat

Top left – Himanka last winter; Top right – summer; Bottom left – map of Finland. The blue star more than generously marks the location of Himanka; Bottom middle – a bark basket with 2 Lap dolls in traditional costume; Bottom right – my reindeer hide boots (no longer wearable. The leather has hardened and they shed fur worse than any furred animal in spring that I have ever encountered.)

A traditional story about the four winds hat :

“A long, long time ago, perhaps thousands of years ago, or maybe a little longer, man could not live in Lapland. Do you know why? That was because all the four winds used to blow just how they wanted. One morning the world could be green and warm, the flowers were blooming and the sun was shining. But the next morning there could be cold and snowy outside as the winds were blowing hard from the north. Sometimes, all the four winds blew, all at the same time.

Then one day a man came to the north, a shaman. He built his tent and moved to Lapland, ignoring the four winds. But he was lonely: no wife, no kids, no friends. Then the shaman lit the fire in his hut, and began to yoik and play his drum as accompaniment. With his amazing yoiks the Shaman called the four winds to come and see him in his hut. The shaman and the winds sat down by the fire, the hut was warm and the four winds fell all asleep. But the Shaman did not sleep, he put some more logs on the fire, and in the warm temperature the four winds began to shrink and shrink. Eventually they were so small that he could hold them in his hand. The shaman took off his hat, which at the time was shaped round like a normal hat. The shaman took the winds one at a time, put them in his hat, and then he tied the winds inside his hat.

Next morning the four winds woke up, got annoyed and tried really hard to get out of the hat. They blew hard in all directions, but they did not manage to come out. Do you know why? Well, they were tied to the hat. The winds inside the hat shouted “Let us out, let us out!” And the shaman said, “I will relieve you on one condition only; you have to promise that you all agree on when you will blow, one at the time, and the others will be waiting for their turn.” And the winds promised and agreed to that in the future the north wind blew only in winter time, the east wind blew in the spring, the south wind would blow warmly in the summer evenings in Lapland and in September the wind would shift to blow winds of fall.” As a reminder of this promise from now on all the men in Lapland wear a four winds hat,” said the Shaman to the four winds and waved his hat, which no longer looked the same after the capture of the four winds, it was now a pointed hat.”

©  Raili Tanska

35 thoughts on “The 4 Winds Hat of Lapland

  1. Great post Raili; two tales in one! I knew the lads would turn out alright and the story of the winds was wonderful. thank you.

      1. Hi Anneli. Thank You, I am okay and hope that You are also. Very nice that that You remembered me after years. I still continue blogging and photographing, but nowadays I reduced the frequency of my posts to bimonthly.

  2. What a wonderful hat! And I really enjoyed the tales that came with it – both the traditional one and that of the young “no-hopers”. Well, they showed early promise by giving the bicyclist a mission in life.

  3. I’m glad I finally got around to reading this fantastic post. I’ve been groping around in the dark for a while now, missing everything.
    Finland has fascinated me ever since I read the Moomintroll books when I was about 18. I’m not much of a traveller, but I’d like to put on an extra sweater and go there – it’s OK, I wouldn’t expect to meet the Moomins.

    1. The Moomins are a big thing over there. We have a video in Finnish the kids were sent, an alarm clock and some other trinkets. I didn’t realise just how big they are still until recently!

      1. It’s a trilogy written by Mervyn Peake. Set in the massive, crazy palace of the royal family in a fantasy world, it’s full of weird, wonderful characters, and is either loved or hated by all who read it.

      2. I sincerely hope you enjoy it – it seems to have gone out of favour, and there seems to be this ‘either Lord of the Rings or Gormenghast’ attitude, although there is little connection between the two – or maybe that’s the reason…

      3. I’m getting more and more curious now. I still have 5 vampire books to devour. They’re a quick read. There’s 16 of them !

      4. I’ve gone this far, I just want to know how it all ends. It full of twists and turns and new creatures popping up from the world of the supernatural…

      5. Ok, but when you find you have a taste for warm blood and a dislike of the sunshine, remember I warned you – although modern vampires don’t seem to have a problen with daylight…

      6. Really?! Blood, warm or not – yuk 😦 I didn’t know that vamps had burst into daylight – the ones I’m reading about frizzle and burn to a crisp in the sun!!

      7. I think it is, but I have no comparison. There’s lots more than vampires, and its interwoven into a story about the life of the main character, largely human with a touch of fae. There are shapeshifters, werewolves/panthers, faery (not your fluffy kind, these are NASTY!), witches – some of them friendly, others not at all.

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