Trolls and other norwegian creatures
Writing about Norway I can’t skip the subject of trolls. They come up eveywhere, in movies, fairytales, popular culture, art, literature. In previous posts you may have read about the Troll Road, the Troll Wall (probably as famous as Troll’s Tongue so the Trolltunga //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolltunga
In every polish city and town yu will find a pope’s statue, in norwegian towns it applies to trolls statues. Tourists are always happy to take pictures with those.
Troll figures are the most popular souvenirs, trolls come up on magnets, gadgets, t-shirts and all memorabilia from Norway. There exists a troll-themed theme park, roadsigns with trolls and groups of geeks in search of trolls, researching troll’s history, uploading lots of “evidence” of existence of those legendary creatures in the internet. There are movies, on which the trolls are meant to be filmed (altroug I doubt the authenticity of such evidence, you can chceck on your own, that the strenth of evidence is not dealbreaking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxYZtsRwPPQ )
Trolls come from old norse myths. Their appearance can be traced to XIIIs century Edda by Strulson. Norwegians describe them as huge, living aside from humans (in the mountains, in forests, caves and under bridges) alone or in small groups. According to most sources they are not very sharp ceratures, rather agressive, they are happy to eat human flesh (especially chrisian’s flesh!). Being much bigger than humans they are big, croocked, ugly, sometimes one-eyed or multiheaded. They turn to stone at the daylight.
Very often trolls come up in folclore tales and legends that were collected, edited and publised in XIX century in a famous collection of norwegian fairytales by Asbjornsen and Moe. Also the main character of Henry Ibsen’s Peer Gynt comes across the kingdom of mountain trolls king. Edward Grieg wrote “In the hall of mountain king” especially for Ibsen’s play. Trolls were also one of the main subcjects in art of norwegian famous painter’s called Theodore Kittelsen (see my next post about him here: http://ladysownvoyageexperience.com/norwegian-painter-theodor-kittelsen/ ).
Intresting thing is that that was believed that a creature name trollcat existed. Those were big cats being servants of trolls and witches. They were sucking the milk out of cows and they stole sweet cream from the villagers.
Trolls are common in most of fantasy worlds and role playing games. We can find them in Lord of the rings, The Hobbit, Discworld, Harry Potter, Warhammer, Dungeons and Dragons…and many many more.
I have to also remind, that the famous Tove Jansson’s Moomins were in fact originally Mumintrolls, so a kind of troll too.
Another legendary creathure coming from norwegian folclore is huldra. The meaining of the word comes from adjective “hidden”, “unrevealed”, “invisible”. Huldra is of feminine gender, usually she is a very beautuful lady. Only difference between a huldra and a beautiful cowgirl or milkmaid would be a cow’s tail, that can be seen hanging from her skirt. Huldras in some tales are believed to be troll’s daughters or wifes. In other tales they are a part of their own kind, called the huldrefolk.
Nisse was a kind of household lesser gods being in generall good (altrough we may find many descriptions of their mischiefs). There are in general not viscious and not being a danger for humans. They take care of houses and the cattle. Nisse are being known to punish villagers who treat their cattle badly or do not care about their farms and houses.
In Norway it used to be traditionnaly Christmas Nisse living in a barn (Julenisse) and Christmas Goat (Yulbocken) that brang presents to children. Today those two are being put in the role of Santa’s helpers. Nisse have usually red hats, and beards. Farmers in Norway used to leave them little gifts of food. On Christmas nisse’s traditionnaly were left their fauvorite porridge with butter.
A creature living on the bottom of lakes, fjords and ponds. He tempts humans with beautiful music, often in a form of a white horse (nokken meant “marine horse”. Sometimes nokken was seen in the shape of young beautiful men or woman. It hid unver water-lillies or pretended to be a water log. All the mischief was aimed to tempt humans, especially children to approach the water. Than nokken would drown them.
Draugen is nothing else but norwegian zombie, undead. It has most commonly a dead man’s body, a form of skeleton or a corpse in decay. The creature lives not far away from it’s grave or the place where it was killed, often guarding a treasure that was burried with it. Draugen is sometimes a sea-zombie. In those cases the undead was killed in a naval battle.
Draug (as an enemy) also appears in some computer games like The Elder Scrolls series or in The Witcher.
Well known sea monster has norwegian roots. In Norway the Kraken was believed to look like an island or a gigantic crab. The meaining of the word “kraken” is connected to the word “krake” which meant unhealthy animal, crooked, deformed. Kraken was well described by the bishop of Bergen in his Natural History of Norway, that he wrote in 1752. The creature inspired many artists: Tennyson wrote a sonnet about it, Verne made it appear in “Twenty Thousad Leagues Under The Sea”, China Mieville wrote an entire novel called “Kraken”.