Päivätär (Sun Maiden)
- Published: Sunday, 26 June 2022 05:00
The Päivätär (Sun Maiden) illustration above was created several years ago as a part of the collection of mythic midummer characters. And now during the midnight sun, it´s time for Päivätär to shine.
The Päivätär was designed together with the Midsummer Dryad, Naiad, Eve and Love Spell. Can you still remember those mythic characters from the previous blog posts? Together they are creating a series of mythic midsummer illustrations.
All these illustrations above were inspired by the Finnish mythology and mythical characters from the Finnish folklore. And of course the amazing Finnish wildflowers and midsummer magic were offering a lot of inspiration on the way.
Already years ago visions of the mythic midsummer characters started to develop in my sketchbook based on the old myths - and those ideas started then to transform into new illustrations. And now during the summer solstice it´s nice to write a bit more about the creative process of the Päivätär-illustration.
In English ”Päivätär” translates as Sun Maiden or Sun Spirit. The Finnish word Päivätär has a strong connection to Finnish mythology and especially to Kalevala poetry. In that way the Kalevala was influencing this illustration right from the start. And in this illustration, the Kalevala was not only nourishing the visions and imagination... but it also literally adventured with me in the forests and wandered with me in the meadows, when I was searching for the wildflowers.
The Kalevala is a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian and Finnish folklore and mythology. The Kalevala is based always in the same metre (poetry) that is a form of trochaic tetrameter, now known as the Kalevala metre.
More info about the Kalevala you can find for example in here:
Kalevala in wikipedia
About Kalevala in the Finnish Literature Society
Kalevala Society Foundation (currently available in Finnish language)
Since the first sketches, all the mythic characters were designed to have their own styles and selected colors. ”Päivätär” as the Sun Maiden were then chosen to have that strong yellow and sunny style with touches of white. The Sun Maiden character was also designed to have that theme of conveying and radiating light… and making the plants grow and the flowers to bloom. In the illustration the darker green lower part of the floral dress is celebrating that verdancy and is also forming a ground and a platform for that radiating yellowness to bloom.
The sunny flower dress of the Päivätär was completed with meadow buttercups, white clovers and daisies – and with that yellow dandelion flower. That charming dandelion became a perfect eye-catcher into the floral dress – and it became also a very special symbol for the sun and for the midsummer day.
From the start it was clear that the Päivätär would have same style with the other midsummer mythic characters. For that reason the Päivätär had only gentle nuances of the Kalevala, so that all the different stories and styles of the other characters would merge consistently.
But the Kalevala was inspiring me all the way when illustrating the mythic midsummer characters and especially the Päivätär. And in the Kalevala poems it´s for example described: ”I heard Moon Spirit weaving, Sun Spirit spinning…”. And in some of the Kalevala poems the clothes were ” finished off by Sun Spirit”.
And for example one beautiful verse in English has meaning as: ”Open the best chest, fling open the lid of many colors; in it are six gold belts, seven blue dresses: those were woven by Moon Spirit, finished off by Sun Spirit.”
But how does that verse look like in Finnish with that archaic language… ? The same verse is attached below from Kalevala (and it´s also seen in the picture below):
”Astu aittahan mäelle
- aukaise parahin aitta - !
Siell' on arkku arkun päällä,
lipas lippahan lomassa.
Aukaise parahin arkku,
kansi kirjo kimmahuta:
siin' on kuusi kultavyötä,
Ne on Kuuttaren kutomat,
The Finnish word ”Päivätär” and Finnish language brought special features into this illustration, in the same way than the water related words in the previous Naiad illustration.
And for all you intrested about languages I this time linked again also some Päivätär and sun related words for you to listen in Finnish language... The words are pronounced in Forvo and the links open in a new window (in Forvo press the blue play button for listening).
Päivätär (Sun Maiden, Sun spirit)
Ilta-auringon kajo (the shimmer of the evening sun)
One of the words listed in links above is "hopea" that translates as silver. In the Finnish folklore and in the Kalevala it has special meaning. And also in this context with Päivätär, because in Kalevala poetry people sometimes asked for the Päivätär to give sun´s silver. Like in the picture below where some of the Finnish words translates: " Sun Spirit, give some of your silver ..."
And when reading the Kalevala poems, the mind wandered into those moments when Päivätär were requested to give silver, clothes and jewellery... and especially to those mystic events, when the sun´s silver was then magically given. Those moments described were also taking a symbolic shape in the illustration, but in a very abstract way.
And in the picture below that sun´s silver was finding it´s place beside the sunrays that were drawn with quite abstract style... and eventually that sun´s silver in the illustration became like a part of that radiating sunlight of the Päivätär.
The sun´s silver in the illustration became a special clue to Kalevala and to Finnish folklore. But because the mythic maidens in these illustrations have a certain style, I therefore added the details from Kalevala poetry in a very subtle way. The approach also reminded a bit of the way how the wawy elements were added for the Naiad in a certain way.
It was interesting through the Päivätär illustration to research that abstract style for example when describing the sun´s silver or those sunrays. With that approach also those smallest details referring to Kalevala were adjusted to the bigger picture and merged in the shared story of all the maidens.
But despite that mentioned abstract drawing style... the characters in these illustrations still had that quite glorious crown for every mythic maiden. But even those crowns were drawn with reduced style and in smaller size if compared to bigger and highly detailed drawings. And it was fascinating trying to draw something glorious but in a plain and reduced way!
And like the other maidens, the Päivätär had her own unique crown designed. And as a result her crown has symbolism of the sun, sun´s silver and light. In her crown it was also important to maintain that similar style with the crowns of the other maidens.
Inspired by the Kalevala, the crown of the Päivätär became silvery, like that sun´s silver in the poems. The colors of the character´s crown were drawn and colored to mimic silvery tones. And the white highlights of the crown were reminding of the midnight sun and white light, but they also were matching nicely with the white daisies of the floral dress. Those white tones brought also some freshness and lightness to the style of the Päivätär – and while coloring, those colors were taking me straight into the light and bright summer days.
And along with that smile of Päivätär…
I´m wishing you sunny midsummer days and bright moments under the midnight sun!