Iku-Turso [IPA|ˈikuˌturso] ("the eternal Turso"; also known as Iku-Tursas, Iki-Tursas, Meritursas, Tursas, Turisas among others) is a malevolent
sea monsterin the Finnish mythology. "Tursas" means octopusin Finnish. However, the animal was named after Iku-Turso.
His appearance remains unclear, but he is described with several epithets: "partalainen" (the one who lives on the edge, or alternatively, the bearded one), "Tuonen härkä" (the ox of
Tuoni, Death), "tuhatpää" (thousand-headed), "tuhatsarvi" (thousand-horned). It was sometimes said that he lived in Pohjola, but that may be because Pohjola was often perceived as the home of all evil.
In some versions of the spell "The Birth of Nine Diseases" Iku-Turso is mentioned as the father of diseases with Loviatar, the blind daughter of
Tuoni, the god of death. The Scandinavian giants thurs had the ability to shoot arrows which caused diseases in people. This and the fact that "thurs" resembles "Tursas" gives credence to the idea that they may be related. Some runes tell that "Meritursas partalainen" makes pregnant the Maiden of Air (Ilman impi, Ilmatar). She later gave birth to Väinämöinen, which would make him a truly primeval creature. On the other hand, he is also mentioned as the son of Äijö(a name usually assigned to the Godof sky).
A god of war?
In the list of
Tavastian gods by Michael Agricola, he is mentioned as the god of war: "Turisas voiton antoi sodast" (Turisas brought victory in war). It has been suggested that the god in the list is same as the Scandinavian god of war Tyr; however, this theory is not widely supported today. It is more likely that Tur(i)sas was the name of a disease-demon who shot sickness-inducing projectiles. This shooting motif may have been the reason why he was interpreted as the Finnish Marsduring the 16th century. On the other hand, it is conceivable that even the pre-historic Finns may have sometimes seen this spirit, who could bring decimating illnessess among the enemies, as a war-deity.
Iku-Turso in Kalevala
He is mentioned several times in the Finnish
national epic, Kalevala. In the second cantos he rises from the sea and burns a stack of hay. Later, a giant oak grows from the ashes. The tree grows so large that it hides the sun and the moon and is cut down.
Later, Iku-Turso is summoned by
Louhi, the Lady of the North, to stop the theft of the magical artefact Sampo. Väinämöinen, the leader of the plunderers, grabs Iku-Turso from his ears and using magical words makes him promise to never return from the bottom of the sea.
One of the five
submarines used by Finlandin the Second World Warwas named after Iku-Turso. After the war the Soviet Uniondenied Finlandthe use of submarines, and it was sold to Belgiumfor scrapping. [http://www.veteraanienperinto.fi/suomi/Kertomukset/sotilas/sotilas/jatkosota/sukellusvenesotaa.htm] Other things named after the mythical being are the Asteroid 2828 Iku-Tursoand a Finnish metal band Turisas. In popular culture, Iku-Turso wreaks havoc in Helsinkiin the Donald Duck comic bookstory " The Quest for Kalevala" by Don Rosa.
last = Turunen
first = Aimo
title = Kalevalan sanat ja niiden taustat
publisher = Karjalaisen kulttuurin edistämissäätiö
date = 1981
id = ISBN 951-9363-24-6
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