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Num


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The sky god of the Samoyeds. The heavens were supreme in Uralian cosmology, the Voguls even believed that their sky god Numitorem sent down animals to the forests and fishes to the rivers. No representation of Num was fashioned by the Samoyeds, but a myth tells how he sent birds to explore the watery chaos at the beginning of the world, and made land from the mud that one of them brought back in its beak. In Finnish traditions an eagle flew over the limitless waters, searching for a dry spot to lay its eggs. Suddenly it caught sight of the knee of the sorcerer Vainamoinen protruding above the surface of the water. There the eagle made a nest and laid its egg. When the slumbering sorcerer felt some discomfort in his knee, he stirred, changed the position of his limbs, and inadvertently caused the egg to fall into the water. It broke at once: the yolk became the sun and moon, while the pieces of shell formed the earth and the stars.

Vainamoinen, the archetypal magician of the far North, was the son of Ilmatar, the air goddess. A cultural founder hero, he invented the zither and his playing of this ancient instrument filled the forests with delight. Wild animals grew tame and the turmoil of the elements ceased. Vainamoinen also led an expedition to find the arcane sampo, which seems to have ‘ground out’ prosperity.

Subjects: Religion.


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