Saturday, April 2, 2011

Knitting Huldra

Theodor Kittelsen (1857 - 1914) is beyond doubt the greatest artist of Norwegian folklore. His illustrations of Norwegian nature and folktales has greatly influenced our immagination, espescially our perception of trolls, and the wilderness fairy, the latter known as "Huldra", the hidden, in Norwegian folklore.
I found these two pictures of Huldra by Kittilsen, and if you look closely, you can see that the one on the right is actually knitting! Not very strange, considering the fact that Huldra often appeared as a seterjente, the girl looking after the cows in the mountains or wilderness. And she used to knit whenever she had the time...
Huldra appeared in the wilderness as a stunningly beautiful girl with long, blonde hair. But she was not human, she was "of those living beyond the ground", beyond human reach. If you looked closely, you could see she had a cows tail sticking out from below her skirt, her ears were like a mountain cat, and seen from behind she was hollow, like a rotten tree...
It was said that she would try to hide this from men, and in the wilderness she would wile them with her beautiful singing and bring them into the mountains. If a man rejected Huldra, or fell in love with her but later escaped her, he would be cursed forever, turning crazy and sick. If he had a child with her, the child would grow unnaturally fast. Huldra had the most beautiful cattle, healthy and never sick or injured. If you treated Huldra with respect, she would help a farmers cattle, and she would exchange goods with humans.

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