Identification of Unnamed Non-human Agents In Kalevala-metric Incantations

  • Tuukka Karlsson
Keywords: Incantations, Kalevala-meter, Viena Karelia, textual cues


Kalevala-metric poetry is an oral-poetic system of various genres, shared by multiple Finnic groups. In addition to epic and lyric, one of the prominent main genres of the oral tradition is formed by incantations. The Kalevala-metric incantations regularly invoke non-human agents, which are aligned with the performer in various ways. While these agents are often explicitly named and addressed, in some cases their identity remains unclear. By conducting a case study, the paper proposes that in many occurrences the unnamed agents are identifiable by examining textual cues and the emergent text-structure of the incantations. The results show that the identification of unnamed agents can be achieved by biographic-metrical and contextual analysis of the incantation texts.