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Magic Songs of the West Finns, Vol. I, by John Abercromby, [1898], at

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As the main object of this work is an examination of the magic songs of the Finns, it may seem at first sight that most of the first volume is little more than a superfluity, unnecessarily heavy baggage that had better have been left behind. But from a point of view that may quite legitimately be held this is not the case. The Finns of Finland form only a large fraction of the Western Finns, and eastward of these live several groups that are commonly termed Eastern Finns, such as the Čeremis, Mordvins, Votiaks, and Zịrians. Philologists maintain, that to account for a certain community of structure and vocabulary, the different languages spoken by these peoples must originally derive from a common source; that once they must have lived much closer together than they do at present. But as community of speech does not necessarily carry with it community of race, it is necessary to give some of the craniological data that have accumulated during the last few years, not only to show how far race and language coincide, but also to help to determine whether certain prehistoric skulls, found in an area now inhabited by Finns, belonged to a Finnish or to a

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[paragraph continues] European race. It is a commonplace remark that to understand and appreciate the present we must know as much as possible about the past. Properly to understand the magic songs of the Firms, to be able to separate the contents into something like a chronological series, to be able to say for certain that such and such a portion is of genuine Finnish origin and growth, while another is merely a Finnish graft on a foreign stock, necessitates some general notion of the past history of the Eastern and Western Finns. In the narrower sense of the word history this is impossible. But with the help afforded by philology and archæology it is possible to distinguish certain broad phases in their past career. Merely with their aid we are enabled to discriminate seven epochs, each marking some advance in ideas and civilisation in the past history of the Eastern and Western Finns. The first of these epochs may take us back some three thousand years, whereas documentary history only accounts for about a quarter of that time, and for our purpose can almost be left out of consideration. In Folk-lore the Finns take an important place, and as I believe that in this country not very much is known about the Eastern groups and their exact relation to the Western, the first volume of this work may serve as a general introduction to a knowledge of all the pre- and proto-historic Finns in Europe, viewed as an organic whole, though now broken up into isolated groups. It need hardly be said that in trying to reconstruct the unrecorded history of a people on the basis of facts furnished by philology, archæology, and other branches of knowledge, there is nearly always an ill-starred vein of uncertainty traversing every conclusion at which we may arrive; and it affords only a

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modicum of comfort to remember that the same is true of nearly all documentary history that reposes on the evidence of only one or two witnesses. All that we can generally expect, then, is to reach conclusions that are probable from the present standpoint of knowledge, and to feel fortunate when that humble aim can be attained; for in the course of our inquiry many questions will present themselves that can only be answered, if at all, with many reserves. The only consolation is that it will not always be so. The work of the trained students now labouring in the fields of prehistoric archæology and Finnish philology will some day bear fruit, and to future generations much that is now obscure, or even quite dark, in the history of the past, will become distinct, or at least comparatively clear.


The Finns of Finland (Suomi) call themselves Suomalaiset, and are broadly divided into two branches, the Tavastlanders (Hämäläiset) and the Karelians (Karjalaiset). The former occupy the south-west of Finland; the latter fill not only the northern and eastern parts of the country, but stretch into Russia as far east as the west coast of Lake Onega, and thence in a straight line northwards to the White Sea, The Finns, however, are not the only inhabitants of the Grand Duchy. Along the west coast from Bothnia, southwards and along the south coast as far as the Russian frontier, there is a fringe of country inhabited by a Swedish-speaking people, forming about 14 per cent. of the whole population, the descendants, for the most part, of Swedish settlers that

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have arrived at various unrecorded periods. Though there is no natural boundary to the north between the Finns and Lapps, the latter are not now found within the limits of the Grand Duchy save in the district round Lake Enare.

Formerly the Finns covered a still larger area than at present. In the middle of the ninth century we learn from Ohthere's account to King Alfred that Qvens (Kainulaiset, a Karelian tribe) lived somewhere in the north of Sweden. Using light portable boats, they took advantage of the long narrow lakes to get far up country, then crossed the Fells and made raids upon the Northmen, who sometimes retaliated. In the north of Sweden the old name survives in the Kalix river, which is known to the Finns as Kainuhunjoki or the Qven river. Far to the east the same explorer found the mouth of the Northern Dvina well populated by a people he calls Beormas, who are generally believed to have been Karelians. At any rate, according to Sjögren an examination of the place-names in the government of Archangel reveals the fact that Karelians once resided not only at the mouth of the river, and as far south as the district of Šenkursk, the most southern district in the above government, but also as far east as the basins of the Pinega and the Mezen, and that as late as the fifteenth century the south coast of the White Sea was termed by the Russians 'the Karelian coast.' 1 Under various names three small groups of Karelians are found in Ingria, which forms the northern and north-western part of the government of St. Petersburg. They are believed to have migrated from Finland at the end of the eleventh or the beginning of the twelfth century.

Beyond the limits of the Grand Duchy live three other

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divisions of the Finns: the Vepsas or Northern Čudes, the Votes (Vatjalarset) or Southern Čudes, and the Esthonians (Virolaiset). The Northern Čudes occupy the north-west of the Bielozersk and the west of the Tikhvinsk districts, all the upper basin of the Ojat, and eastwards into Vitegorsk. Sjögren estimated their number at fully 21,000, though formerly they were more numerous. From documentary and other evidence there is reason to believe, that, in the eleventh century, Finns, known to the Russian chronicler as Em, Yem, lived on the east side of Lake Onega, where abundant traces of their presence have been left in local names. There is written testimony to the effect that as late as the middle of the thirteenth century Čudes (Vepsas) and Karelians lived on the north-east of Lake Kubinsk, in the government of Vologda. And in the middle of the fourteenth century a Russian monk, who founded a monastery at the south-east corner of Lake Onega, mentions that Čudes and Lapps lived in the vicinity of the lake. 1

It is generally believed that the Vepsas, from their name and geographical position, represent the Ves of the Russian chronicle, a people that dwelt near Lake Bielozero. This seems probable enough, but since the time of Fraehn's edition of Ibn Fozlan they are also identified with the Visu of Arab travellers of the tenth and eleventh centuries. Fraehn, however, was misled by the similarity of the names Ves, Visu (Isu, Isui). Ibn Fozlan merely says that the Visu lived at a distance of three months’ journey from Bolgari, but Abu el Kassim, who visited Bolgari later, relates that he had been informed by the king of the Bolgars that a people called Visu lived at a distance of three months’ journey to the north of his country, and that

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with them the night in summer did not last even an hour He adds that the Visu are adjacent to the country of the Yura (Ugra, Ugrians), which is bounded by the Sea of Darkness. 1 The only possible route to the north from Bolgari lay up the Kama, the Kolva, the Višerka, through Lake Čusovoe to the head of the Vogulka, where a short portage (volak) of about four and a half miles brings the traveller to the Volósnitsa, a navigable tributary of the Pečóra. Descending the river, he would at length reach the Usa, about lat. 66° N. As at lat. 66° 19' the night at the summer solstice is just about an hour long, the position of the Usa suits to a nicety the position of the Isu or Visu, according to the indications of Abu el Kassim. It may also be observed that up the Usa lies the regular route to Obdorsk, at the mouth of the Ob, then in the hands of the Yura or Ugrians of whom he makes mention. In all probability, then, the Isu or Visu were the same as the Pečórans of Nestor and early Russian chroniclers, and are now represented by the Zịrians.

The Votes are now restricted to about thirty parishes in the north-west of Ingria. They are first mentioned by Nestor in 1069, and probably occupied the whole of Ingria till partly dispossessed by Karelians from Finland and by Russians from the south. The Esthonians call themselves 'Country people' (mā mēs, mnā rahvas), and are found in Esthonia (Viro) and the north of Livland nearly as far south as the river Salis, as well as in the islands of Dago and Oesel. The old Finnish inhabitants of West Livland and North Kurland have been almost entirely absorbed by the Letts, and their language is almost extinct, save along a narrow fringe of coast between Domesness and Lyserort.

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From a linguistic point of view the Mordvins (Mordvá) stand nearest to the Western Finns. Though now in a highly dispersed condition they occupy a considerable area in the governments of Nižegorod, Kazán, Tambov, Penza, Simbirsk, and Saratov on the west side of the Volga, and of Ufá and Orenburg on the east side. They arc divided into two great divisions, the Mokša and the Erza, who predominate numerically. The latter occupy the south part of Nižegorod and Simbirsk, and extend into the governments of Tambov and Penza. They also constitute the principal contingent of the Mordvin population in the steppes beyond the Volga in the governments of Samára, Ufá, and Orenburg. The country on the west side of the Volga, where the Mordvins dwell, is still partly covered with huge forests, largely composed of deciduous trees, such as the oak, lime, maple, ash, etc.; and as late as the seventeenth century elks were hunted in the forest and beavers tenanted the streams. 1

From an examination of the place-names Professor Smirnov has arrived at the conclusion that the original territory of the Mordvins was bounded on the north by the Volga, on the west by the Oká, the Mok^sa, and the Tsna, on the east by the Sura, while southwards they once occupied the governments of Oká, Kursk, and Vorónež. 2 Under the form 'Mordens' the Mordvin name first appears about the middle of the sixth century in a catalogue, given by Jordanes, of the peoples subjugated by Ermanaric, king of the Goths, about two hundred years earlier. Though their geographical position is in no way defined, it

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seems likely that at any rate as early as the fourth century the Mordvins lived west of the Volga, though perhaps a little further south than at present. A proof that they have long been settled in the vicinity of the Volga is the fact that they call it the Rav, evidently the same as the Rha of Ptolemy.

The Čeremis call themselves Mari, 'people.' According to Zolotnitski the word Čeremis is from the Turkish čirmeš, 'warlike,' which corresponds formally with the Čuvaš Sjarmịs, the term this people applies to the Čeremis. This name, under the form Tsarmis, is believed to occur for the first time in a letter addressed by Joseph, prince of the Khozars, to the vezir of the Khalif Abdurrahman III. in the year 960. No details, however, are given; they are merely mentioned in a list of tributary peoples living along the Volga. 1 For the most part they live on the left or low bank of the Volga, with the Vetluga as their western boundary; along the Volga they extend nearly to Kazán, then northwards to the Viátka in the neighbourhood of Uržum, and thence westwards to the Vetluga. The Hill Čeremis, so called from living on the high or right bank of the Volga, are confined to the south-west corner of the government of Kazan. Besides these there are small isolated groups on the Kama in the districts of Elábuga and Sarapul; also in the government of Perm, as well as on the Biélaya and its tributaries. Altogether they are believed to number over 242,000 souls. Their name for the Volga is the Yul.

Professor Smirnov, basing himself on the chronicle of Nestor, places the original seat of the Čeremis on the Oká, and brings them as far southwards as Spask (Riazán), and

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eastwards as far as Saransk (Penza). Their eastern boundary was the Sura. Within this area he finds a number of place-names ending in -mar, 'people,' -nur, 'field,' -iner, -ener, 'ravine, river,' and kuši, which he ascribes to this people. From this position he supposes they were gradually pushed north by the Mordvins, who lay immediately to the south of them; for an examination of the place-names shows that the Čeremis formerly covered almost the whole of the existing government of Kostroma north of the Volga at a time when their eastern boundary was the Vetluga. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries some of the Čeremis probably still lived in the northern part of the government of Kostroma, but from the fourteenth century they began to be dislodged by the incoming Russians. The new country finally settled by the Čeremis was not a desert. Before their arrival all larger rivers had received names which are not Čeremisian. 1

The Votiaks, who call themselves Ud-murt, or Urt-murt, occupy a large tract of country east of the Viátka, in the upper basin of the river Čeptsa as far west as the Kosa, and a large portion of the south-east corner of the government of Viátka. They are also found in the government of Ufá, but appeared as new-corners from the banks of the Kama not earlier than the sixteenth century. An examination of the place-names shows, according to Smirnov, that the Votiaks originally lived further north, south, and west than we find them at present; within the government of Viátka as far north as the district of Slobodsk, and west of the Viátka as far as Yaransk, where Čeremis are now found. Their villages extended even beyond the limits of Viátka as far north as Sịsolsk (Vologda)

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and as far west as Nikolsk (Kostroma). From their older positions west of the river Viátka and the adjoining districts in the governments of Vologda and Kostroma, they gradually moved east and south-east, where they met Čudes, whom they partly absorbed and partly drove beyond the western limit of Perm. The appearance of Russian colonists in the government of Vologda belongs to the end of the eleventh century, and probably caused the eastward migration of the Votiaks. 1

The Permians and Zịrians to all intents and purposes may be treated as one people. They speak a language mutually intelligible, and both call themselves Komi. But Permian is more strictly applied to those settled on the right bank of the Upper Kama, in the districts of Čérdịn and Solikamsk, called Great Perm collectively, but by the natives Kom-mu, or 'land of the Komi.' Zịrians are met with at various points on the upper course of the Vịčegda, with its tributaries as far west as Ust-Vịm, formerly known as Old Perm; in a north-westerly direction on the upper course of the Mezen and its tributary the Vaška; also on the Išma and the Pečóra as far north as Ust-Išma. There are also some on the Lower Ob beyond the Ural chain. According to older estimates they numbered over 162,000, but Dr. Sommier only allows them about 85,000 on this side the Urals and 1000 on the Ob.

Formerly the Zịrians seem to have extended much further west and north-west than at present. Both Sjögren and Smirnov, relying mainly on river-names, find traces of the Permians in the south-west corner of the government of Vologda in the districts of Totma, Vologda, Griázovets, and Velsk, though mixed with Finnish traces; northwards

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in the basin of the Pinega, where Sjögren found Permian names that were afterwards altered by Finns; and thence northwards to the ocean. Both authors find Permian names attached to western tributaries of the Dvina; in fact Sjögren would derive the Finnish name for it—Viena—from a Zịr. vịna, 'powerful.' Everywhere in the region of the Lower Dvina Finnish and Permian names seem to be found side by side. The southern boundary of the Permians is harder to fix, though towards the east there are no traces of them south of the Sịlva or of the Volga. In a south-westerly direction the difficulty really begins. Smirnov, who receives some support from Sjögren, believes that river-names in the government of Kostroma, Vladimir, and Moscow, such as Kostroma (there is another in the government of Viátka), Viázma, Ukhtoma, Kliázma, Moskvá, Protva (another in Ust-Sịsolsk), etc., are of Permian origin. 1 Though it is very unsafe to rely solely on terminations like -ma and -va in attempting to fix ethnic boundaries, it is a fact that a bone arrow-head, metallic brooches, beads, and other objects reminding us of those found in graves in the government of Viátka, Perm, and Kazan, have been discovered in the prehistoric fort of Diákovo near Moscow. 2

That the Zịrians were not the only inhabitants of the eastern part of the government of Vologda when the Russians first came to know the province, is shown by the fact that the same river may bear two names; for instance,



is in Zịrian the



„     „



„     „



„     „



„     „


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[paragraph continues] Without necessarily ascribing the names in the left-hand column to Ugrians, we know that at any rate as early as the end of the eleventh century there were Ugrians in the north-east of European Russia, for Nestor, who died about 1112, mentions them with the Pečórans and Yems as occupying part of 'Japhet's portion'; if they had inhabited Asia he would certainly have placed them in 'Shem's portion.' In 1185 they are mentioned as living on the Pečóra, and with the Pečórans (Zịrians) paying tribute to Novgorod. In the fifteenth century Voguls and Ostiaks carried on constant war with the Permians and Russians. In 1445 the Novgorodans were beaten by the Ugrians through treachery, and ten years later the Voguls are mentioned as fighting on the banks of the Vịčegda and killing the missionary bishop Pitirim, who had converted certain Voguls to Christianity, at his residence at Ust-Vịm. 1 That the Voguls lived permanently in the neighbourhood of Ust-Vịm, and did not merely make forays from beyond the Urals, is proved by documentary evidence. As the Russians advanced eastwards they continued to encounter Voguls, for in 1481 Andrew Mišnev beat them in an engagement below Čérdịn, in Great Perm, and a document of 1607 proves that the Voguls along the banks of the Višera in the above district were then paying tribute. After a time, however, they found such difficulty in paying it that they dispersed, and some crossed over into Siberia. From the life of Trifon it is clear that Ostiaks nomadized on the spot where the town of Perm now stands, and possessed the whole of the Čusovaya. Ostiaks as well as Voguls are mentioned in the district of Čérdịn, and the name of the later people is given to a tributary of the Inva and of the

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[paragraph continues] Kosva. In fine, undoubted proofs exist that at any rate from the middle of the fifteenth to the end of the seventeenth century, Ugrians resided in the region situated between Ust-Vịm and the Urals, on the Vičegda, the Pečóra and the eastern tributaries of the Kama, such as the Kolva, Višera, Yaiva, Kosva, and Čusovaya. 1 But at what period the Ugrians first appeared in Europe cannot now be decided.


With regard to the Čudes much uncertainty exists. There are historical and mythical Čudes. The term was first applied by the Russians to the Esthonians. Then by extension it was used of another Finnish tribe, more especially of one behind the volok, or portage across a watershed, which seems to refer to the Karelians on the Lower Dvina. The word volok also means 'a great uninhabited forest,' and that was the sense preferred by Sjögren, but 'portage' is the older meaning, and Nestor in his introduction uses it in that sense. He mentions that there was a road from the Variags to the Greeks, and from the Greeks along the Dniepr and across the portage (volok) of the Dniepr to the Lovat, and so to Lake Ilmen—or Ilmer, as he calls it. As the Russians gradually extended eastwards the term Čude, Čudish, by degrees lost its ethnic signification and became far more general. It could now be applied to any non-Russian people that seemed to be aborigines; ancient mining-shafts, tumuli, and prehistoric forts far into Siberia, far beyond any region that could have been inhabited by a Finnish people, were now called Čudish, and

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assigned to an extinct race of people. Legends were told of them, of their manner of life, and how they had vanished. To avoid error it is evident that we must distinguish clearly between the historical and the mythical or semi-mythical Čudes. The first were Finns, the second may sometimes have been so, but not necessarily. In the mouth of illiterate Russians the word had no ethnic value. The types of antiquities termed 'Permian' by Mr. J. R. Aspelin and 'Čudish' by Russian archæologists, are attributed by the former, and by all Finnish archæologists, to the Permian groups, the Votiaks and Zịrians, because they are found in the government of Perm in districts occupied by these peoples. The distribution of these archæological types is limited to certain areas. They are found in the government of Perm, on the Pečora, on the right bank of the Kama in the government of Viátka, on the upper course of the Čeptsa and on the Pižma, both in the government of Viátka, but not in other parts of the government. They are therefore not co-extensive with the diffusion of the Zịrians by any means. Mr. Teploúkhov of Ilinsk (Perm), who possesses the largest collection of Permian antiquities in Russia, attributes them to the Permian Čudes, by whom he understands Ugrians, more especially Voguls. In a paper published by him in 1893 he believed that he had proved that the Permian Čudes already existed on the Central and Upper Kama in the fifth century A.D. 1 But since the recent finds at Gliadénova, near Perm, described in the next chapter, it becomes possible to maintain that the Čudes were in Perm about the second century. If his arguments hold good, as I believe they do, it means that the eastern frontier of Russia in Europe from about

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lat. 57° N. northwards was in the hands of Ugrians as early as the second or third century, and therefore that all the eastern Finns must have occupied territory to the west of them. In the preceding pages it has been seen that the Russians have gradually pushed the Eastern Finns further and further eastward, their original seat having been nearer the centre of European Russia than nowadays. Later on we shall find craniological and archæological reasons which make it probable that several centuries before the present era a small body of Ugrians had established themselves as far west as the government of Yaroslav.


As regards the physical features of North Central Russia from Finland and the Baltic Provinces to the Urals, the immense region inhabited by Finnish tribes in bygone days, must have been tolerably uniform. Everywhere the country was a broken, undulating plain, densely covered with trackless forests of pine and fir, interspersed with birch and alder, a gloomy wilderness only relieved by open tracts of swamp and morass, impassable save when frozen hard in winter. In summer the only possible means of communication was by water, as is still the case in the northern governments. Only in the south-east of the region, in what are now the southern parts of the governments of Kazan and Nižegorod, and in those of Simbirsk, Samára, and Tambov, were there any natural open plains, occasionally broken, where water was abundant, by large forests of useful trees like the oak and the lime. In early times the immense plain of European Russia, so beset with forests and natural obstacles as to be wellnigh impassable

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for large bodies of men travelling by land with all their belongings, was nevertheless provided by nature with two royal highways from east to west, and vice versa. Along the south was the grassy steppe fringing the north coast of the Black Sea, with room enough for a whole nation to march abreast. By a nomad people this route could best be traversed in summer, as there was then abundance of grass for their horses and cattle; rivers were more easily crossed than in spring, and the clumsy wagons were less likely to stick in the mud of the soft, earthy ravines that seamed the steppe. The other highway was the treeless tundra that borders the Arctic Ocean; winter was the best time for using it, when the rivers and morasses were frozen, the snow hard and fairly smooth. The only means of transport was a sleigh drawn by reindeer or by dogs, but when the latter were employed their masters had to fallow on snow-shoes. The winters were long and rigorous, lasting nearly half the year. But for a hardy race of men, whose only desire was to live, there were compensations the rivers and lakes were full of fish, some of them, like the sterlet, so foolish as to allow themselves to be taken with a bare, unbaited hook. The forests were well stocked with large game, such as elks, wild oxen, bison, bears, beavers, and other smaller animals. As fish are obtained more easily and with less trouble than large game, all human habitations were disposed along the banks of the larger rivers or on the shore of a lake. The watersheds and the tracts traversed merely by small streams were untenanted by man. And the permanent settlements along the rivers had always to be at some height above the ordinary surface of the water, as every spring, with the melting of the snow and ice, the rivers were enormously

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swollen, and rose many feet above their normal level, inundating the low land for a very considerable distance.

With regard to metals the region is decidedly poor. All the best gold and copper mines lie on the east side of the Urals, where the ore is found in lodes. On the west side there are copper-bearing beds of sedimentary origin, and sometimes the metal is found in a native state. But there is no copper west of the mines near Taiševo, between Mamadịš and Malmịž on the Viátka, or of a parallel of longitude drawn through it; none, indeed, till we come to Pitkaranta, on the north coast of Lake Ladoga. In insignificant quantities oxide of tin with galena is also found there, but there is no tin or silver in the Urals. Iron is worked near Murom and in the neighbourhood of Petrozavodsk, on the west side of Lake Onega.


Having briefly described in general outlines the geographical distribution of the East and West Finns now and in the past, so far as it can be inferred from place-names, we have now to pass on to their physical and mental characteristics.

Professor Retsius defines the Tavastland or Häme type as follows:—

'In physique it is strong, solid, broad-shouldered; in general, thickset and plump, with coarse limbs; of medium height, though individuals are found above and below the average.

'The flesh is firm, generally without disposition to fat or to leanness; the muscular system is strong.

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'The skin is white, but often greyish inclining to olive grey; it is rarely as clear and pure with a transparent rosy hue as among blonde Teutons (Scandinavians and English).

'The head is usually large, short and broad (brachycephalous), but not particularly high, often rather square with well-developed tubera parietalia.

'The face is large, long, but above all comparatively broad both in the frontal region and still more so in these of the zygomatic arch and the jaws; the lower jaw is strongly developed.

'The nose is small, rather wide, obtuse, or more often with a small point, just a little retroussé; the nostrils are rather wide. The mouth is also rather wide.

'The eyes have small slits, are rather narrow, and sometimes slightly oblique. The iris is light, grey-blue, or more often blue-grey, even grey or bluish-white. The eyebrows are feebly developed and light.

'The expression is rather morose and little sympathetic.

'The hair on the crown is blonde, oftener flaxen, otherwise ash-grey; in women it is often yellow or yellowish-red at the tips, straight, never curly, and very silky. In children it is nearly always flaxen, sometimes almost whity-yellow; in adults it often becomes darker, assuming an ashy hue; it maintains, however, very often a dark flaxen hue.

'The beard as a rule is small, with hair that is relatively sparse, short, coarse, and light, with a tendency to red, especially on the chin; in general, the beard is shaven, and therefore rarely seen at its full length.

'From a psychological point of view the characteristic Tavastlander is serious, manly, melancholy, meditative, little communicative, taciturn, neither enthusiastic, lively, or alert physically or morally; but on the contrary slow,

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torpid, ungainly, and heavy in his movements, very conservative in all respects, and little inclined to reforms and changes; he is not the man to take the initiative for a good or bad undertaking, and is not inclined to rebel against authority. He is suspicious and does not appear to be exempt from jealousy or vindictiveness; he cherishes a grudge for a long time, and postpones his revenge till the propitious moment arrives; hence grave, premeditated crimes are not altogether uncommon. In a high degree he is a fatalist; he is content with very little, enduring suffering and privation with admirable fortitude and patience. Though slow by nature he is very assiduous at his work, and with inborn tenacity never gives in so long as he sees a possibility of gaining his point. He is inclined to assist a neighbour, and is hospitable when civilly treated. Taken all in all he is an honest fellow. He is absolutely faithful, even if not lavish in his expressions of tenderness and goodwill, preferring to translate them into deeds rather than into words and demonstrations; in general he never expresses himself in the superlative, or in a positive and peremptory manner, but with diplomatic prudence and reserve. As regards his other psychical qualities he is not hasty, but sure in his judgment; he goes to the root of the matter slowly but thoroughly. He is neither musical nor poetical, at least he is not creative in these directions, and he is seldom heard to sing.

'Thus in spite of its sterling merits the Häme type does not as a rule possess an exterior either beautiful or attractive; at least one seldom meets persons that answer to our ideas of beauty. This remark applies not only to men, but also to women; the latter have generally less angular and more rounded features, but beauties are extremely rare; at

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least we have not found a single woman that merited this name among the thousands that we have seen. If then this Häme race is not distinguished by external beauty, it possesses at any rate, owing to its physical and moral solidity, its tenacity and meditative nature, the traits of character that make it a strong race that can hold its own in the struggle for existence. It is also on the whole fertile; from the point of view of sexual morality it is not, however, commendable, but rather the contrary.

'The Karelian type is distinguished as follows:—

'The physique is less strong than that of the Häme; it is less broad-shouldered, less thickset and plump, with less powerful limbs, but more slender, and the proportions more comely. As a rule it exceeds the average height, and often presents individuals of considerable stature.

'The flesh is tolerably firm, with little disposition to fat, rather to leanness.

'The colour of the skin is darker brunette, or rather ash-grey.

'The head is not large, but in proportion, rather short (brachycephalous), but less so than the Häme type. The length of the neck is proportionate.

'The face is in length proportionate, generally with a relatively small breadth both in the frontal and zygomatic regions and in the maxillary parts; these, however, are rather strongly developed, chiefly in height, especially the lower jaw.

'The nose is long, straight, proportionate, and pointed.

'The mouth is well proportioned.

'In the eyes the apertures are in good proportion, and never or very seldom oblique. The iris is dark-grey blue.

'The eyebrows are dark, strongly developed, often slightly bushy.

p. 21

'The expression is generally animated, open, and attractive, though with a certain air of seriousness.

'The hair on the crown is dark, usually chestnut, sometimes dark ash, neither straight nor rough, but generally curly, and often abundant.

'The beard seems to be rather small, but is usually shaved off.

'From a psychological point of view the Karelian is more lively, brisk, and enterprising; he is not reserved, but expansive, gayer, and inclined to take the initiative, but less persevering and tenacious; less deep, penetrating, and fatalistic; he is more friendly, attentive, and obliging. He conducts himself like a gentleman, has a good, often a noble deportment, moves with a certain elegance, and produces in general an agreeable impression. Handsome types of men and women are often met; the latter, with usually an oval face, very regular features, a straight, pointed nose, large blue eyes, a pretty mouth, a rather animated expression, and a well-proportioned, sometimes slim figure, are decidedly pretty; and genuine beauties may sometimes be found among them.' 1


According to Mr. Mainov, who measured 225 Erza Mordvins of both sexes, in several districts and governments, the average height of the men is 5 ft. 6 in.; of the women 5 ft. 2¾ in.; 86 per cent. of the men and 70 per cent. of the women have dark hair—he recognises three shades—but the shade is generally less dark in the fair sex. The lightest shade is found in 12.6 per cent. of the women, and in only 2.4 per cent. of the men. With regard to

p. 22

colour 86 per cent. of the men and 81 per cent. of the women have cinnamon-coloured hair; the remainder is nearly equally divided between olive and dark mud-colour, and none is reddish. And 89 per cent. of the people have straight hair; 8.2 per cent. wavy, and only 2.7 per cent. have really curly hair. 1 Dr. Sommier, who only visited one village—probably Mokšan, though he does not say so—in the government of Saratov, found two types among the Mordvins, corresponding to the Häme and Karelian types in Finland. The former was blonde, broad, and squat; the latter type was darker and brisker, with more Aryan features. On the whole, blonde hair predominated, and the beard was usually scanty. The colour of the iris was usually grey, inclining to blue or chestnut. He found the people extremely shy and difficult to deal with. But the women were less coy than the men, for none of the latter would let themselves be measured, while seven of the fair sex allowed him to take a few measurements. Though Pallas termed the Mordvins the dirtiest people in Russia, Dr. Sommier's experience led him to believe that in this respect they are surpassed by several others, such as the Ostiaks, Baškirs, Votiaks, and Čeremis. Besides being cleaner than the last two, the Mordvins are healthier, more robust, more wide-awake and less intellectually torpid. In fact he assigns them the second place after the Zịrians, who stand first among the Eastern Finns in activity of mind and body. 2 According to Professor Smirnov, the Mokšas offer greater variety of types than the Erzas, and contain a considerable percentage of persons with black hair, dark eyes, and a swarthy, yellowish skin. They are more thickset, and consequently more clumsy in their

p. 23

movements. Without displaying any grace of movement, the Mokšan girls and women exhibit in their gait, speech, and gestures a remarkable self-confident strength and energy. The excellent physique of the Mordvins, their stature, and the healthy colour of the skin, which distinguishes them sharply from the Čeremis, Votiaks, and Permians, is the result of having lived for centuries in a fertile region where food is abundant. 1 At the last census they numbered rather less than 800,000 souls.

It has been supposed by some that the Erza Mordvins, by others that the Biarmians, are referred to by various Arab travellers and writers of the tenth century. They mention nearly in the same words that the Rus were divided into three tribes. The first lived nearer to Bolgar, and its king had his seat at Kuyabā (v. Kutaba, Karbaya), a town larger than Bolgar; the second were called Slawiya, or Salawiya; and the third were the Arthaniya, the king of which dwelt at Artha (v. Arta, Arba, Abārka, Abarma). This latter people killed any foreigners that entered their country, but did a good trade with Kiev, the Khozars, and Bolgars, the exports being the fur of the black sable, the black fox, and lead. Dorn and Fraehn read Artha, Arthaniya as Erza, Ertsa, and identified the people with the Erza Mordvins, who, if they had black sables, had certainly no lead to export. Chwolson thought the name of the third tribe should be read Barmaniya, and identified it with the Biarmians of Scandinavian legend; Mr. Snellman, the latest Finnish writer on the early history of the Finns since the beginning of the present era, is inclined to agree with him. But apart from the fact that by Rus we generally have to understand Swedes and Northmen, not Finns, there are other notices of the Arthaniya which show that they dwelt far to the South, at no great distance from the coast of the Black Sea. Istakhri vaguely states that Artha lay between the Khozars

p. 24

and Great Bulgaria, which bounds Rum to the north. 1 Idrisi is more explicit, though some of his geographical statements are hard to reconcile, and his place-names still more difficult to identify. Starting from Trebizond, he describes what seems to be a coasting journey round the east end of the Black Sea as far as the large town of Matrika, or Matrakha, by which Tmutarakhan, or Old Taman, is intended. Nevertheless it is said to be situated on the river Sakir, which branched off from the Athil (the Volga), the chief affluent of which passed near Athil, a town near the Caspian. One day's sail, or 100 miles before reaching Matrika, he places the considerable town of Matluka or White Comania. Its situation would therefore be near the port of Novorossisk. He then mentions four towns in Comania: Kirah, Naruš, Nuši, and Kiniow or Kiniu, and their relative positions may be given diagramatically as follows:—

Click to enlarge

p. 25

Before proceeding further, we must hear what Idrisi has to say of the Rus. 'Kokania,' he says, 'is inhabited by the Turks known as Rusa. They are divided into three hordes, one of which is called Beraws, and its king resided at Kokania; the second is called Slawia, and its king resided at Slava, a town on the top of a hill; the third is the Arthania, and its king lived at Arthan, a pretty town built on an abrupt hill between Slawa and Kokania, that is to say, four days (100 m.) from each. Musulman merchants went to Kokania, but it was reported that any stranger entering Arthania was infallibly put to death. One of their exports was lead.' Referring back to the diagram, we have to imagine Artha as situated 100 miles from Slava, though the direction is not mentioned, and 100 miles beyond this was Kokania. Further on, Kokania is stated to be about twenty stations from Bolgar, though I do not know what this distance implies. With regard to Nai, the most westerly point, in mentioning some of the towns on the Danabros or Dniepr, Idrisi states that from Kaw (Kiev?) to Nai, 'a town of Comania,' was six days’ journey, apparently in a southerly direction, as he describes the places in a descending order. 1 Though the position of the Arthaniya cannot be exactly laid down from the indications given by Idrisi, it could not have been far removed from the coast, and lay somewhere in Comania, in the steppe between the Dniepr and the Don, or not far from it, so that the idea that these people were Biarmians or Erza Mordvins is without foundation. The next witness is Ibn Batuta, who made a land journey from Astrakhan to Constantinople. He mentions that at one day's journey from Ukak are the Hills of the Russians, who are Christians with red hair and blue eyes, an ugly and perfidious people. They possessed silver mines, and from their country were brought ingots of silver called sum, som, each weighing five ounces. He gives the position of Ukak as ten days’ journey from Sarái (near Tsarev, and east of Tsarítsin), and ten days from Sudak on the east coast of the Crimea. Colonel

p. 26

[paragraph continues] Yule has shown that there were two places called Ukak; one lay about six miles south of Sarátov, and the other on the Sea of Azov, a little to the east of Mariúpol. In some mediæval maps it appears as Locac, i.e. L’Ocac. He also mentions that there are mines of argentiferous lead ore, containing 60 per cent. of lead, near the river Mius, which falls into the Sea of Azov about twenty-two miles west of Taganrog. 1 As mines of silver and lead, so far as my knowledge extends, are found in no other part of European Russia, save in the Central Caucasus, it seems extremely likely that the Arthaniya, or however the name is to be written, occupied the valley of the Mius. The steep and craggy sides of this valley are composed of stratified limestone, and afford admirable sites for a town such as Artha or Arthan, which was perched on the top of a precipitous hill, while the landscape, as a whole, corresponds with Ibn Batuta's expression, 'the Hills of the Russians.'


Dr. Sommier describes the Čeremis as for the most part of slender build, and in appearance weak, though there are also sturdy fellows among them that reminded him of the Häme type. After eliminating what he considered to be the result of a Slav and Tatar intermixture of blood, he believed he could find in the pure Čeremis the Häme and Karelian types of Retzius. They are generally of low stature; the average of twenty-eight men was 1.60 m. (5 ft. 2½ in.); of eight women 1.50 m. (4 ft. 10½ in.). Their hands and feet are small, and the skin is white. Their hair is soft and abundant, neither curly nor stiff, and in colour from blonde to dark chestnut. A light blonde inclining to red is not uncommon, but black is very rare. Small children have nearly always light flaxen hair. The beard is scanty,

p. 27

appears late, and is usually blonde. The colour of the iris varies from blue to dark chestnut, but is more often yellowish grey and chestnut. The eyes are usually small, and sometimes a little oblique. In character the Čeremis are mild and of a good disposition; the Russians praise their honesty; but they are poor and dirty, shy, mistrustful, extremely obstinate, and endowed with a slow, limited intellect. 1 Dr. Pápai observed that their skin is white, and in uncovered places bronzed. Their hair is dark, and very dark tones predominate, though lighter ones often occur. The eyes are generally dark, though medium and lighter tones are common, and among women predominant. 2

There is a marked difference between the Hill Čeremis and those on the left bank of the Volga, the former being taller and stronger. Yet the type of face on the whole is the same, and in both we find prominent cheek-bones, with the same admixture of dark- and light-haired persons with dark or light skins. The difference of physique between the two groups is entirely due to physical causes, The Čeremis on the left bank live among huge swamps and boundless forests, drink bad water, suffer from insufficient and improper food, and are consequently subject to fevers, lung disorders, goitre, and premature old age. 3

From the resemblance between the names Mári and Méria, as well as from their geographical position, it is generally believed that the latter people, whose name is now extinct, were of the same stock as the Čeremis. About the end of the eleventh century they are mentioned by Nestor as paying tribute to Novgorod, and having their centres at Lake Rostov and Lake Kleščino. But their

p. 28

territory embraced a far larger area, and included at least the whole of the governments of Vladímir, Yároslav, and the western part of Kostroma. Their old position, therefore, lay between the Čeremis and Mordvins to the east, and the Finns to the west or north-west. The earliest mention of them is in the catalogue of names given by Jordanes in the middle of the sixth century, where, under the name of Merens, they are placed immediately before the 'Mordens.'


The Votiaks number about 276,000 persons. According to Dr. Buch their muscular system is only moderately developed, and their muscular force is small, though of course there are exceptions, and strong-built men are not uncommon. The trunk compared with the legs is longer than among Europeans. The skin is white, though in about twenty per cent. of instances it is brown; it is smooth and comparatively hairless on the body and the extremities. As regards colour, the hair of the head is of various shades of brown, but is sometimes reddish or yellow, very rarely black. The growth of the beard is scanty, and in colour usually reddish. The eyes, which are of average size, are generally blue, but also brown, grey, and occasionally green. The face is oval; the forehead low and narrow; the mouth of average size, with lips not unduly thick; the nose is usually straight and not very wide. Sometimes the younger women are not bad-looking, but the older ones are hideous. In general, the Votiaks are said to bear a great resemblance to the Esthonians.

In character they are described as extremely peaceful, very industrious and hard-working. Amongst themselves

p. 29

they hardly ever come to blows, even in their cups. They are of a very retiring disposition, and keep themselves as much as possible apart from the other stranger nations that surround them, such as Tatars, Baškirs, Čeremis, etc., but especially from the Russians. On the whole, they struck Dr. Buch as being a dull, heavy people, for they take a long time to answer a very simple question. On feast-days the men drink to excess, but the women, though far from being teetotalers, manage to keep sober. 1 The low stature and feeble frame of the Votiak lies in close connection with his physical surroundings. It has been observed that inhabitants of low marshy ground are everywhere of lower stature than those living on high ground. The contrast already noticed between the Hill Čeremis and those on low ground is found between the Votiaks in the Viátka government and those in the government of Ufá. When the latter migrated into the fertile black soil of the Baškirs, they became physically regenerated and in no way inferior in appearance to their Russian and Baškir neighbours. 2


From measurements taken by Dr. Sommier the average height of twenty male adult Zịrians was found to be 1.636 m. (5 ft. 4 in.), and of eight women 1.536 m. (5 ft. ½ in.). Both sexes are well made, well fed, muscular and healthy. The colour of the skin is white, and the young people have fresh, rosy cheeks. Dark eyes are rare, the prevailing colour being grey. The hair is abundant and often curly, the predominant colour being blonde, which often tends to

p. 30

reddish or golden. None had black hair. After twenty-five years the beard never fails to appear on men; sometimes it is scanty, but more often thick and abundant, and nearly always curly. The face is sometimes broad and somewhat massive, with large cheek-bones and a small but well-formed nose. It reminded him of the Häme type in Finland, and seems to be more frequent in women than in men. Sometimes, however, the face is oval, with cheekbones neither large nor prominent; with a long, high nose, either straight or aquiline, and deep-set eyes, a type that resembles the Scandinavian rather than the Finnish face. In men this type is oftenest seen with a thick curly beard. The young women are rather pleasing, though they can rarely be termed pretty. All have the impression of being smart and intelligent; they seem well-to-do, clean and well dressed, especially when contrasted with the Ostiaks among whom they live. 1

Another observer also gives them a very good character, as being religious, obedient, peaceful and reliable, sober, of few words, and, above all, honest. Thieving is detested. They are slow, but not lazy; on the contrary, they are diligent, laborious, and not dirtier than their Russian neighbours. 2

Assuming that the above inventories of the physical, moral, and mental qualities of the East and West Finns are accurate, or not less incorrect than all generalisations must necessarily be, we find remarkable correspondences and yet considerable differences. Except the Karelians, and to a less extent the Zịrians, all branches of the Finns are distinguished by a certain sluggishness of mind and body, by shyness and suspicion of strangers, by obstinacy, great

p. 31

tenacity of purpose, and an unfailing power of enduring privations and suffering as a matter of course. With these are united honesty and fidelity. No doubt it is chiefly on account of these qualities that they have been able to maintain themselves for many centuries in the inhospitable climate of North Central Russia before civilisation made life comparatively easy. The brisker, more wide-awake, nature of the Karelians and Zịrians may be due to local causes—the latter, for instance, were civilised and Christianised more than a hundred years earlier than the Votiaks and Permians,—which have sharpened their wits to a greater extent than other Finns; yet the darker, curly hair of the former, compared with the straight towy hair of the Häme, suggests a blending of different stocks. The hair of the Mordvins is also dark, but only a small percentage have wavy, and a very small number curly hair. With the Čeremis, too, darkish hair prevails, and the eyes are generally dark, though lighter tones are common, and predominate among women.

In Table I. (p. 32) are brought together the height and cephalic index of living Finns, and for purposes of comparison they are placed between the Ugrians that lie to the east of them, and the Letto-Lithuanians to the southwest. It shows that stature increases towards the west, and it may be assumed that till civilisation improved the physique of the more advanced Finns, like the Mordvins, the Häme, and the Karelians, they were all an under-sized people. It appears, further, that all the Finns are subbrachycephalous (Broca), save the Čeremis, Esthonians, and Livs, who are mesocephalous. The presumption lies near at hand, therefore, that the Finns are not quite homogeneous, but that at some period two different stocks

p. 32

came in collision and amalgamated. The almost exact correspondence, as regards stature and cephalic index between the Häme and the Lithuanians on the one hand,

Click to enlarge


 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8

and the Karelians and Letts on the other, is worth noting, as it shows what small value stature and a single index possess when attempting to solve an ethnological problem.

p. 33


Though the results to be gained by craniological measurements for ethnological purposes are not very satisfactory, they cannot be passed over in silence, and I have felt bound to lay before the reader some little of the material collected by G. Retzius, Virchow, Maliev, and others, with regard to Finnish crania. It is certainly an important matter to try to form some idea of a typical Finnish skull, as a considerable number of ancient crania have been unearthed in the Baltic Provinces, and elsewhere in Russia, in regions that have been or still are inhabited by Finns. From a historical point of view it is needful to decide, if possible, whether they are Finnish or otherwise. Professor G. Retzius has described and measured 94 adult West Finnish crania, preserved partly at Helsingfors, partly at Stockholm. The Helsingfors collection consists of 68 crania from various parts of Finland, except Karelia; of these, 41 are of males, chiefly malefactors; 3 are of women; the sex of the remainder, which came from old cemeteries, is not stated, but if the sexes were equally divided, about 72 per cent. of the 68 skulls may be considered male. The Stockholm collection consists of 26 adult West Finnish crania, obtained chiefly from parts of the country inhabited by Häme or people of Tavastland. 1 In comparing his measurements with those of Russian anthropologists it must be remembered that he uses the maximum height to obtain the vertical index, whereas the Russians use the bregma height recommended by Broca; his vertical index is therefore higher than it would be if

p. 34

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p. 35

Click to enlarge


p. 36

using the French method. Maliev has measured 17 Čeremis crania from an old burial-place at the village of Little Sundịr in the district of Kozmodemiansk (Kazán), and 26 Permian taken from a cemetery at Kudimkor in the district of Solikamsk (Perm). 1 Dr. Sommier has measured 36 Ostiak crania. 2 All these I have arranged in Table II. in five groups according to the classification of Broca, while the totals are given on the upper part of Table III. In the lower part, I add, for the purpose of comparison, 184 North Russian crania measured by Dr. Tarenetsky; on line 12 the dolichocephals are shown separately. On lines 13–18 are the indices of 23 skulls—3 hyperdolichos are omitted—from a row-grave cemetery at Laurenzberg on the right bank of the Vistula, near Kaldus in the district of Kulm, all of which were measured by Dr. Lissauer. Their date may be placed at the end of the last millennium, and to judge from the funeral furniture and pottery they belonged to a Slav-speaking population. 3

An inspection of the two Tables shows that the Finns are not a homogeneous race, as it includes both dolichocephals and brachycephals. Beginning with the former class, and comparing the Häme with Čeremis, we see that the former have shorter, narrow heads; that comparing the Häme with the Ostiak, taking the sexes together, there is little difference in the length and breadth of the head, though the former have a much higher head; that, taking both sexes together, the head of the Čeremis is rather larger and broader, and about 12 mm. (½ in.) higher than that of the Ostiak; that in length and breadth the crania of Permian and Ostiak women are almost the same, but

p. 37

the latter are platycephalous. Comparing next the Häme with the dolichocephalous Russians in Table III. l. 12, we see that the length and breadth of the skull, and, therefore, the cephalic index is the same; the vertical index unfortunately is not given, but the orbital index of the Häme is a little higher. Compared with the above Russians the Čeremis head is longer, broader, and higher, but compared with the Teutonic crania (Table III. l. 20) it is considerably shorter, nearly the same breadth, but lower.

In the sub-dolicho group we find a change. Instead of being longer and broader than the Häme head, the Čeremis skull is now considerably shorter and rather narrower, though about the same height. Compared with the Permian male, the Hine head is longer and broader, but not so high; yet in the female skull the Häme is higher than the Permian. As regards the orbital index the Häme is mesoseme, but the Permian megaseme.

In the mesocephalous group the same relation between the Häme and the Čeremis is perhaps maintained, though there is only one skull to judge by. Though the Permian female skull is higher than the Häme it is decidedly shorter and narrower. In the sub-brachycephalous class the male Häme skull is longer and broader than any other in the group, and is only exceeded in height by the Permian; but the female head is much shorter, narrower, and higher than the Permian female head. In the brachycephalous group the male Häme head is longer and higher than the Permian, while both are nearly equally wide; the female Häme head is about the same length as the Permian, but narrower and lower, though after all the observation is made on a single instance.

The main difference on the average between North

p. 38

[paragraph continues] Russian crania and those of the West Finns, seems to be that the latter have a lower cephalic but rather higher vertical index—in the case of female crania the difference is very decided—and considerably higher transverse vertical and orbital indices; though in the three sub-brachycephalous crania of Laurenzberg Slavs, the vertical and transverse vertical indices are even higher than the Häme, yet the orbital index of the latter always remains higher. It is perhaps the best test of all the indices here given. The Permian crania, taken on an average, in spite of the differences we have noticed above in the separate groups, have indices a little higher than the Häme, but on the whole agreeing with the latter, save in having a lower orbital index. But when the sexes are taken separately a great difference is observable; the males are brachycephalous, the women mesocephalous; whereas, taken on the average, the sex-differences in the Häme type are nearly smoothed over. The Čeremis being dolichocephalous, in the wider sense of the term, have naturally a low vertical index, which agrees nearly with that of the purely dolichocephalous Letts and Russians (Table III. ll. 9, 11), but is still far removed from the platycephaly of the Ostiaks.

As the West Finns contain a percentage of long-heads that cannot entirely be accounted for by crossing with Scandinavians, and the Permians and Votiaks also contain a few, while the Čeremis may be regarded as mainly long-headed, the question arises, How did they acquire this dolichocephaly, and what was the race with which they were crossed? Later on, when dealing with the archæology of North Russia, we shall find that a small tribe of small-headed dolichocephalous people lived on the Lower Volkhov, where it debouches into Lake Ladoga, far back

p. 39

in the neolithic period; that at the source of the river the tribe included at least one short-headed member; that on the Oká two crania, one sub-brachycephalous and the other sub-dolichocephalous, belonging to the same early period, were found in two graves in the neighbourhood of Murom; that several short-headed and one long-headed cranium belonging to a much later time, though still in the neolithic age, have been taken from a shell mound in Livland. I shall be able to show, I hope, the considerable likeness that exists between the Ladogan and the Čeremisian crania, and to establish the probability that the Čeremis are in part descended from this prehistoric tribe.

As the Ladogan population was, comparatively speaking, small-headed, and had probably dark chestnut, not blonde, flaxen hair, it could not have been an Eastern prolongation of the Scandinavian blonde dolichocephals, though it had been so long in Europe that it almost deserves the term European. It will be seen, too, later on, that archæology speaks in the same sense. From the distant affinity between the Finnish or Ugrian languages, it is natural to suppose there might also be affinity of blood between this long-headed race, that seems to survive in the Čeremis, and the Ostiaks. It is true the latter are, almost without exception, chamæcephalous, but this perhaps is only a local variation, for in other respects these two peoples agree in possessing a white skin, dark chestnut hair, darkish eyes, short stature, small hands and feet. The question can be settled only by experts, though it may be pointed out that Virchow has measured fifteen male and female platycephalous crania, presumably Teutonic, from a row-grave cemetery near Alsheim (Rheinhessen), with

p. 40

which were found a coin of Antoninus Pius and one of Constantine the Great. The indices were as follows:—

Cephalous index

6 M.


9 F.


Vertical      „


68.9 1

[paragraph continues] Platycephalous crania have also been found in the long barrows in England and elsewhere.

If the Čeremis are really the descendants in part of the old Ladogan population, and the short-headed men of the neolithic period were of a different stock, the latter may have been Finns, and, if so, may be regarded as having lived for a very long time in Europe. The question then presents itself: To which race belonged originally the languages now known as Finnish and Ugrian? In other words, did the short-headed men impose their tongue on the long-headed men, or was it vice versâ? The question cannot at present be answered. Yet considering the great interval of time during which these two types of crania have been in close contact, it is possible to believe that the original congeries of human beings, from which by hypothesis sprang the united Finno-Ugrians or the united Finns alone, was not composed of a homogeneous cranial type. Even if this period is set back for a myriad of years there were still several myriads of years behind the human race, during which several allophyl elements had time to unite.


The whole of Esthonia is and has been inhabited by Finns, at any rate in part, since the beginning of the later Iron Age, or about 500 A.D. The north of Livland is still

p. 41

peopled by Esthonians, but in the middle of the thirteenth century, when the German knights took possession of the country, the Finns or Livs, as they were called, extended further south, and also occupied the western portion of the province; the central and south-eastern divisions being at that time in the hands of the Letts. In Kurland the Kurs held the northern part of the great promontory that ends in Domesness, and perhaps a strip along the sea-coast that united them with the Livs. The rest of the province was and still is tenanted by Letts and Lithuanians. The question to be settled is whether Finns were the first occupants of Esthonia and Livland, or whether they were preceded by another people. Now that we have learnt a few facts concerning the Häme skull in Finland, it is possible to take a glance at the crania that have been brought to light in the Baltic Provinces, so as to form an opinion how far they belong to the Häme type of Western and Central Finland.

In Table IV. are brought together the indices of 91 crania; 87 of them measured by Professor Virchow, 4 by Dr, Kharuzin, who uses Broca's method, and all arranged in geographical order from north to south. Though no age is assigned to several of these crania, the presumption is that none of them belong to a very remote age, for, on the whole, before the introduction of Christianity cremation prevailed. Hence it is more than probable that they belong to a time when the population was the same as in the thirteenth century. The only certain prehistoric crania are those of the lower series, found in excavating the Rinnekaln in Livland, while the upper series from the same mound can only be from three hundred to four hundred years old.

p. 42 p. 43

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p. 44

The Lettish and Lithuanian crania are given without indication of sex, though probably both sexes are included. For purposes of comparison it is often useful to know the average maximum length, breadth, and height of a set of crania, and as there was no room for this in Table IV. the measurements are appended below:—





Ceph. ind.

Vert. ind.

Tr. vert.

50 Modern Lettish Skulls







15 Modern Lithuanian Skulls







Both sets of crania seem very similar in length and breadth, but the Lettish is about an eighth of an inch lower, and therefore its vertical and transverse vertical indices are also lower than the Lithuanian. For a mesocephalous type 72.9 or 73. is a low vertical index, since about one unit must be subtracted to reduce them to the scale of Broca, which seems to imply that the group contains a large proportion of dolichocephals. Though the vertical index of two sub-dolichocephalous men of Häme type is only 72.5, the actual average height of their crania is 7 mm. higher than the Lettish; on the other hand, the vertical index of two sub-dolichocephalous Häme women is as much as 77.6. As the sub-dolichocephalous Čeremis and Permians have also a rather high vertical index, a low sub-dolichocephalous head in the Baltic Provinces cannot be regarded as Finnish, but must be considered as belonging either to a Lett or to a Finnicised Lett.

Though the modern Lettish skull is mesocephalous, it would seem that this has not always been the case. Professor Virchow, basing his opinion on crania of almost

p. 45

certain Lettish attribution, such as the 16 from the Gulbern district, 3 from Terveten, 2 from Alt Pebalg, and 2 from elsewhere, arrives at the conclusion that the Lettish type is dolichocephalous, as the following Table exhibits: 1

Click to enlarge


Comparing these indices with the modern crania above, we see that the vertical index is practically unchanged, but that the transverse vertical index is lower in the latter. To account for this difference, supposing the actual height to have remained constant, the older skull must have been narrower than the modern one. No doubt it was also a little longer. What is true of the original Lettish type seems to be true of the old Lithuanian type. In the large and numerous Pagan cemeteries of the eleventh century that exist in the neighbourhood of Bielsk and Drohiczyn (government of Grodno), between the Bug and the Narev, that is to say, in a region inhabited at that time by Yatvings, a Lithuanian tribe, dolichocephalous crania alone have been disinterred. 2

To the crania in Table IV. must be added 10 more from the three Baltic Provinces, for which there was no room before, as they are drawn up in another form.

p. 46

[paragraph continues] They were measured by Dr. Weinberg, and were taken from burial-places dating from the tenth to the twelfth century. 1 As he has calculated the vertical and trans-vertical indices from the maximum height of Virchow, I have added two columns in which the bregma height is used, and enclosed the figures in square brackets.

It is now time to pass in review the contents of Tables IV. and VI. to ascertain how far the Finnish type of skull prevails in the northern half of the Baltic Provinces, Beginning with Esthonia, we find that out of 23 adult crania, from seven different places, not one accords with the average Häme type in Table III.; either the cephalic or the vertical index is too low, though the high orbital indices from 86 to 88.1 in some instances are certainly an indication of Finnish rather than of Lettish origin. Yet on that account alone we are not to suppose that the owners of these crania, when alive, did not speak a Finnish dialect. In all probability they did so; at any rate most of them. With regard to the 4 crania from Pühtitsa, which lies near the Russian frontier, Dr. Kharuzin, who measured them, is almost sure they could not have belonged to a Finnish people, and Professor Viskovatov, who conducted the excavations, says there is no doubt, judging from their family names, that the present inhabitants are Esthonianised Russians. 2 The high orbital index of the Hallist group may perhaps be attributed to crossing with Finns, while that of the Fellin triplet is low—rather lower, in fact, than the average Lettish male orbital index in Table V. That miscegenation on a great scale between Finns and a long-headed orthocephalous population, like the Letts, has taken place, seems quite evident.

p. 47

Click to enlarge


p. 48

[paragraph continues] We know that in the twelfth century, when the Livs harried the Letts, they killed the men, and generally carried off the women and children as prisoners. 1 No doubt they were in the habit of doing so in still earlier times. Such a practice would lead not only to frequent crossing of blood between the two races, but to the incorporation of a considerable number of pure Letto-Lithuanians into the Finnish population, for the Lett boys and girls that were spared no doubt became Finnicised before they became adults. Though we have already found reason to believe that from a very remote time there must have been a certain percentage of long-heads among the brachycephal Finns, it would not account for the absolute absence of even a single sub- brachycephalous skull in the province of Esthonia. The only inference seems to be that Esthonia, before the arrival of the Finns in any great body, had already been colonised, though not very densely, by a long-headed orthocephalous people like the ancient Letts and Lithuanians. Another fact pointing in the same direction is the name of Esthonians, applied to the Finns of Esthonia. By the Scandinavians they were termed Eistir. This name is identical with that of the Aistii of Tacitus, the Estas of Wolfstan, a people that lived on the Baltic coast, east of the Vistula, and are identified with the Old Prussians, who were of Lithuanian stock. Letto-Lithuanian tribes may therefore be supposed to have held East Prussia and the Baltic Provinces, and to have been collectively known to the older Scandinavians as Aistiz, to those of the Viking period as Eistir. When the Finns made their way into the northern part of the provinces, and absorbed the native population, they also inherited the name of Eistir, and the

p. 49

country they occupied received the name of Estland, or the land of the Eists.

Crossing the political, though not the linguistic, frontier into Livland, and leaving aside for the moment the crania from Rinnekaln, we find 5 crania from Salis and 2 from Ikul See that certainly belong to the Lettish type established by Professor Virchow. The low vertical and orbital indices seem decisive on this point. The four Livish skulls in Table VI. are of varied types, but Finnish blood may well have run through the veins of at least one of these brain-pans. So far then as the scanty evidence goes, the Livs must have been a mixed breed, at any rate in later times, when we first hear of them in history.

The crania from Rinnekaln in Livland require special notice and attention, for, if Professor Virchow is correct, a Finnish people frequented the spot in a neolithic period when all instruments were of stone or bone. On the south bank of the Salis, where it issues in a stream about 25 feet wide from Lake Burtneek, is a natural elevation about 198 feet long, 49 feet wide, and 8 feet high, known as the Rinnekaln. Its upper surface for a depth of about 3 feet is composed of mussel-shells, bones and scales of fish, with other food refuse. The archæological contents will be described in greater detail in another chapter. For the present it is sufficient to say that the upper part of the mound consists of the débris left by a prehistoric people that went there periodically to fish, to eat mussels, to hunt, and to trap beavers. With the exception of three or four stone implements, including a polished diorite axe found on the upper layer of mussel-shells, the harpoons, scrapers, arrowheads, etc., were all of bone. The remains of wild mammalia

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included those of the Greenland seal, the beaver, elk, boar, Bos primigenius, the bison, etc., but not the reindeer. The domestic animals were the dog and the sheep, it being uncertain whether the few bones of a larger and smaller breed of cattle had belonged to domesticated animals or not. The presence of the horse is somewhat doubtful, as only one tooth was found near the top of the mound. A few sherds of pottery indicate that the potter's art was known and practised. In excavating the mound two series of crania were uncovered. The upper series lay at a depth of from 1 to 2 feet, and had been deposited there not more than three or four centuries ago, as coins and other objects lying beside the skeletons abundantly proved. The six crania of the lower series lay at different depths from 4 feet 2 inches to 2 feet 5 inches below the surface. Three of them reposed in the black earth underlying the shell-mound, and below layers of mussels and refuse that had not previously been broken through with pickaxe and spade. With one exception these six crania were brachycephalous. The indices of these five short-headed skulls, without distinction of sex—in Table IV. the sexes are given separately—were:—

Ceph. ind.

Vert. ind.

Orbit. ind.

Nasal ind.





In some instances the skeletons were preserved. Two of those in the black earth below untouched layers of shells, and one in the lower part of the shell-mound, had been deposited with the head to the north-east and the feet to the south-west. This last skeleton lay surrounded by quantities of splinters of bone and sherds of pottery. On the breast of the long-headed skeleton, which belonged

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to a woman, lay a curious-looking ornament of bone; at her head was a bone arrow-head, at her feet lay two others, one of bone, the other of mica schist.

Out of the 29 crania of the upper series only 5 were sub-brachycephalous. Taking both sexes together—in Table IV. they are given separately—the indices were:—

Click to enlarge

Comparing the short-headed crania of the upper and lower series, Professor Virchow finds they closely resemble each other; that they do not differ ethnologically, and there is nothing to prevent their being classed together. With regard to nationality he believes we need hardly hesitate to consider the short heads as the Finnish and the long heads as the Lettish element. The first stand very near the Saarhof skull, the second closely resemble the crania from Alt Selburg, Alt Pebalg, Gulbern, and Terveten. With regard to the mesocephals he is uncertain whether they belong to a pure or to a hybrid race, and also whether the Livs are of mixed blood or not. The mesocephalous crania from Rinnekaln are not separable from those of Launekaln, Ascheraden, and Gulbern. If these are held to be Livish something is to be said in favour of the belief. But it must be remembered that Lithuanian and Lettish skulls, such as those, for instance, in Table IV., are also mesocephalous. For the present it is an open

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question whether the Livs are a mixed Letto-Finnish people or not. 1

Assuming with Professor Virchow that the brachycephals of the lower series were Finns at a neolithic stage of civilisation, though the vertical and orbital indices of the males are lower than might be expected, it does not follow that they were the first settlers in what is now Livland. It would seem they were not permanently living on the shore of the lake, and one of the skulls of the series appears to have belonged to a sub-dolichocephalous old woman of Lettish type. Whether a captive or not, after death she was treated with respect. She was buried with a curious carved bone ornament on her breast, arrow-heads at her head and feet, and her body was laid in the same direction as a genuine member of the tribe. It is impossible to fix a precise date to the shell-mound at Rinnekaln, but it was rather late in the neolithic period, as the presence of sheep and of two breeds of oxen sufficiently show. It is also later than the stations at Kunda in Esthonia, of which we shall have to speak in another chapter.


4:1 Sjögren, pp. 290, 292, 323, 390.

5:1 Sjögren, pp. 469, 292, 507, 509.

6:1 Abou el Cassim, pp. 81, 82.

7:1 Smirnov, (4) pp. 117, 118.

7:2 Ibid. (4) p. 15; (1) p. 12.

8:1 Semenov, p. 1.

9:1 Smirnov, (1) pp. 10–19.

10:1 Smirnov, (2) pp. 8–13.

11:1 Sjögren, pp. 300, 316, 320; Smirnov, (2) pp. 91, 93.

11:2 L’Anthropologie (Paris, 1892), p. 499.

12:1 Sjögren, pp. 308, 309; Smirnov, (3) p. 110; (2) p. 5.

13:1 Sjögren, pp. 308, 309; Smirnov, (3) pp. 208, 109.

14:1 Teploúkhov, (3) p. 37.

21:1 Retsius (1), pp. 161, 162.

22:1 Mainov, pp. 186, 386, 103, 104.

22:2 Sommier, (2) pp. 118–122.

23:1 Smirnov, (4) pp. 115, 121.

24:1 Chwolson, pp. 171–176; Harkavi, pp. 193, 199, 200, 220, 276; Dorn, p. 57; Snellman, p. 54.

25:1 Édrisi, vol. ii. pp. 399–402, 405, 398.

26:1 Ibn Batuta; Yule, vol. ii. pp. 488, 489.

27:1 Sommier, (2) pp. 245–250, 238.

27:2 Pápai, p. 264.

27:3 Smirnov, (1) pp. 84, 85.

29:1 Buch, pp. 21–29.

29:2 Smirnov, (2) pp. 81, 83.

30:1 Sommier, (1) pp. 10–14.

30:2 Sjögren, pp. 436, 437.

32:1 Pápai, pp. 257, 261.

32:2 Maliev, pp. 51–69.

32:3 Sommier, (1) pp. 62, 65.

32:4 Sommier, (2) pp. 246–248.

32:5 Mainov, pp. 186, 386.

32:6 Retzius, (1) pp. 163–165.

32:7 Brennsohn, pp. 27, 28, 42.

32:8 Yantchouk, p. 476.

33:1 Retzius, (2) Table v.; (1) p. 176, Table V.

36:1 Maliev, (2) xvii. Table xi.; (1) Appendix.

36:2 Sommier, (1) pp. 90–93.

36:3 Lissauer, (2) Table opp. p. 134, 106.

40:1 Virchow, (1) p. 495.

45:1 Sievers, (2) pp. 122–128, with observations by Virchow.

45:2 Count Louis de Fleury, pp. 331–334.

46:1 Weinberg, pp. 11–13.

46:2 Viskovatov, p. 239.

48:1 Wiedemann, p. lxiii.

52:1 Virchow, (1) pp. 411–432; Sievers, (1) pp. 217–222.

Next: Chapter II. The Neolithic Age in Finland