Women and Demons in the Late Medieval Wall Paintings in the Church of Espoo (Finland)

Women and Demons in the Late Medieval Wall Paintings in the Church of Espoo (Finland)

By Katja Fält

MIRATOR, Volume 18, Number 1, 2017

Frescos in Espoo Cathedral, Espoo, Finland.

Introduction: The aim of the article is primarily to examine late medieval wall paintings in the church of Espoo that include women with some form of diabolical entity. The paintings under examination include five different motifs: the milking and churning, the Journey to Blåkulla, Skoella and Tutivillus.

The milking scene in Espoo shows a woman with a cow and a man-size demon with horns, hoofs and a tail observing the task. Immediately above the woman milking a cow another woman is seen riding on a broom, holding a pouch-like object in her left hand and a horn in her right. On the south side of the church, the milking scene continues with a scene representing a demon assisting women in churning the butter. Skoella scene represents a demon passing a pair of shoes to a woman on the west wall above the entrance, and above, three demons are seen twiddling with a parchment. This motif is referred to as Tutivillus.

The analysis of the motifs begins with the examination of the images at their visual level in which the content of the images is explained. The analysis then proceeds to the examination of the motifs in their cultural and historical context. The article discusses the origin of the different motifs and compares them to similar ones found among other early sixteenth-century wall paintings in Finland. The methodological approach combines art historical analysis and cultural-historical contextualisation.

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