Iku-Turso (ˈikuˌturso, "the eternal Turso"; also known as Iku-Tursas, Iki-Tursas, Meritursas, Tursas, Turisas among others) is a malevolent sea monster
Sea monster
Sea monsters are sea-dwelling mythical or legendary creatures, often believed to be of immense size.Marine monsters can take many forms, including sea dragons, sea serpents, or multi-armed beasts. They can be slimy or scaly and are often pictured threatening ships or spouting jets of water...

 in the Finnish mythology
Finnish mythology
Finnish mythology is the mythology that went with Finnish paganism which was practised by the Finnish people prior to Christianisation. It has many features shared with fellow Finnic Estonian mythology and its non-Finnic neighbours, the Balts and the Scandinavians...

. Nowadays Meritursas means octopus
The octopus is a cephalopod mollusc of the order Octopoda. Octopuses have two eyes and four pairs of arms, and like other cephalopods they are bilaterally symmetric. An octopus has a hard beak, with its mouth at the center point of the arms...

 in Finnish
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

, named after Iku-Turso, but originally tursas is an old name for walrus
The walrus is a large flippered marine mammal with a discontinuous circumpolar distribution in the Arctic Ocean and sub-Arctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. The walrus is the only living species in the Odobenidae family and Odobenus genus. It is subdivided into three subspecies: the Atlantic...

 while the more common term is mursu. However, it is more common to see the word (lit. "ink fish"), the name of its Subclass Coleoidea
Subclass Coleoidea, or Dibranchiata, is the grouping of cephalopods containing all the primarily soft-bodied creatures. Unlike its sister group Nautiloidea, whose members have a rigid outer shell for protection, the coleoids have at most an internal bone or shell that is used for buoyancy or support...

 in Finnish, for the octopus.


His appearance remains unclear, but he is described with several epithets: partalainen (the one who lives on the brink, or alternatively, the bearded one), Tuonen härkä (the ox of Tuoni
In Finnish mythology, Tuoni was the god of the Tuonela ....

, Death), tuhatpää (thousand-headed), tuhatsarvi (thousand-horned). It was sometimes said that he lived in Pohjola
Pohjola or Pohja is a location in Finnish mythology, sometimes translated in English as Northland or Pohjoland. It is one of the two main polarities in the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, along with Kaleva or Väinölä. Its name is derived from the word pohjoinen meaning the compass point north...

, 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
Nine diseases
In the Finnish mythology, the Nine diseases are the sons of Loviatar, the blind daughter of Tuoni. She is impregnated by wind...

 with Loviatar
Loviatar (mythology)
Loviatar is a blind daughter of Tuoni, the god of death in Finnish mythology. She was said to be the worst of them all. She was impregnated by wind and gave birth to nine sons, the Nine diseases. In some poems, she also gives birth to a tenth child who is a girl...

, the blind daughter of Tuoni
In Finnish mythology, Tuoni was the god of the Tuonela ....

, the god of death. The Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n giants (þursar, sg. þurs) had the ability to shoot arrows which caused diseases in people. This and the fact that þurs 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
In Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, Ilmatar was a virgin spirit of the air.-Origins:The name Ilmatar is derived from the Finnish word ilma, meaning "air," and the suffix -tar, denoting a female spirit...

). She later gave birth to Väinämöinen
Väinämöinen is the central character in the Finnish folklore and the main character in the national epic Kalevala. His name comes from the Finnish word väinämö, meaning minstrel. Originally a Finnish god, he was described as an old and wise man, and he possessed a potent, magical...

, which would make him a truly primeval creature. On the other hand, he is also mentioned as the son of Äijö
Äijö may refer to:*Äijö, a name of the supreme god in Finnish mythology, more often used when he is portrayed in an evil way or as the Devil.* "Äijö" , a song by the Finnish folk music group Värttinä...

 (a name usually assigned to the God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 of sky).

As a god of war

In the list of Tavastia
Tavastia may refer to:* Tavastia , a historical province of the kingdom of Sweden, located in modern-day Finland* Tavastia Proper, a modern region of Finland* Päijänne Tavastia, another region of Finland...

n gods by Mikael Agricola
Mikael Agricola
Mikael Agricola was a clergyman who became the de facto founder of written Finnish and a prominent proponent of the Protestant Reformation in Sweden . He is often called the "father of the Finnish written language". Agricola was consecrated as the bishop of Turku in 1554, without papal approval...

, 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 Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 during the sixteenth century. On the other hand, it is conceivable that even the pre-historic Finns may have sometimes seen this spirit, who could bring decimating illnesses among the enemies, as a war-deity.

Iku-Turso in Kalevala

He is mentioned several times in the Finnish national epic
National epic
A national epic is an epic poem or a literary work of epic scope which seeks or is believed to capture and express the essence or spirit of a particular nation; not necessarily a nation-state, but at least an ethnic or linguistic group with aspirations to independence or autonomy...

, Kalevala
The Kalevala is a 19th century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology.It is regarded as the national epic of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature...

. In the second canto
The canto is a principal form of division in a long poem, especially the epic. The word comes from Italian, meaning "song" or singing. Famous examples of epic poetry which employ the canto division are Lord Byron's Don Juan, Valmiki's Ramayana , Dante's The Divine Comedy , and Ezra Pound's The...

s he rises from the sea and burns a stack of hay
Hay is grass, legumes or other herbaceous plants that have been cut, dried, and stored for use as animal fodder, particularly for grazing livestock such as cattle, horses, goats, and sheep. Hay is also fed to pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs...

. Later, a giant oak
World tree
The world tree is a motif present in several religions and mythologies, particularly Indo-European religions, Siberian religions, and Native American religions. The world tree is represented as a colossal tree which supports the heavens, thereby connecting the heavens, the earth, and, through its...

 grows from the ashes. The tree grows so large that it hides the sun and the moon and is cut down.
From the ocean rose a giant, From the acorn, quickly sprouting,
Mighty Tursas, tall and hardy, Grows the oak-tree, tall and stately,
Pressed compactly all the grasses, From the ground enriched by ashes,
That the maidens had been raking, Newly raked by water-maidens;
When a fire within them kindles, Spread the oak-tree's many branches,
And the flames shot up to heaven, Rounds itself a broad corona,
Till the windrows burned to ashes, Raises it above the storm-clouds;
Only ashes now remaining Far it stretches out its branches,
Of the grasses raked together. Stops the white-clouds in their courses,
In the ashes of the windrows, With its branches hides the sunlight,
Tender leaves the giant places, With its many leaves, the moonbeams,
In the leaves he plants an acorn, And the starlight dies in heaven.

Later, Iku-Turso is summoned by Louhi
Louhi is a queen of the land known as Pohjola in Finnish mythology and the mythology of Lapland.-In mythology:Louhi is described as a powerful witch with the ability to change shape and weave mighty enchantments. She is also the main opponent of Väinämöinen and his group in the battle for the...

, the Lady of the North, to stop the theft of the magical artefact Sampo
In Finnish mythology, the Sampo or Sammas was a magical artifact of indeterminate type constructed by Ilmarinen that brought good fortune to its holder...

. 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.
Wainamoinen, brave and mighty, Asked the second time the monster, To the people of Wainola,
Seizes quick the water-monster, Urgently inquired a third time: Never while the moonlight glimmers
Lifts him by his ears and questions: "Iku-Turso, son of Old-age, On the hills of Kalevala!"
"Iku-Turso, son of Old-age, Why art rising from the waters,
Why art rising from the blue-sea? Wherefore dost thou leave the blue-sea? Then the singer, Wainamoinen,
Wherefore dost thou leave thy castle, Iku-Turso gave this answer: Freed the monster, Iku-Turso,
Show thyself to mighty heroes, For this cause I left my castle Sent him to his deep sea-castles,
To the heroes of Wainola?" Underneath the rolling billows: Spake these words to him departing:
Came I here with the intention "Iku-Turso, son of Old-age,
Iku-Turso, son of Old-age, To destroy the Kalew-heroes, Nevermore arise from ocean,
Ocean monster, manifested And return the magic Sampo Nevermore let Northland-heroes
Neither pleasure, nor displeasure, To the people of Pohyola. See thy face above the waters I
Was not in the least affrighted, If thou wilt restore my freedom, Nevermore has Iku-Turso
Did not give the hero answer. Spare my life, from pain and sorrow, Risen to the ocean-level;
I will quick retrace my journey, Never since have Northland sailors
Whereupon the ancient minstrel, Nevermore to show my visage Seen the head of this sea-monster.


One of the five submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s used by Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 in the Second World War was named after Iku-Turso. After the war the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 denied Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 the use of submarines, and it was sold to Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 for scrapping.http://www.veteraanienperinto.fi/suomi/Kertomukset/sotilas/sotilas/jatkosota/sukellusvenesotaa.htm Other things named after the mythical being are the Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 2828 Iku-Turso and a Finnish metal band
Heavy metal music
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the Midlands of the United Kingdom and the United States...

Turisas is a Finnish folk metal band from Hämeenlinna. It was founded in 1997 by Mathias Nygård and Jussi Wickström and named after an ancient Finnish God of war....

. In popular culture, Iku-Turso wreaks havoc in Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

 in the Donald Duck
Donald Duck
Donald Fauntleroy Duck is a cartoon character created in 1934 at Walt Disney Productions and licensed by The Walt Disney Company. Donald is an anthropomorphic white duck with a yellow-orange bill, legs, and feet. He typically wears a sailor suit with a cap and a black or red bow tie. Donald is most...

 comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 story The Quest for Kalevala
The Quest for Kalevala
The Quest for Kalevala is an Uncle Scrooge comic book story written and drawn by Keno Don Rosa in 1999.The Quest for Kalevala is based on the Finnish national epic Kalevala, assembled and partly written by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th century...

by Don Rosa
Don Rosa
Keno Don Hugo Rosa, known simply as Don Rosa, is an American comic book writer and illustrator known for his stories about Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck and other characters created by Carl Barks for Disney comics, such as The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.-Early life:Don Rosa's grandfather,...


In late 2009 the professional wrestling promotion Chikara introduced a character named Tursas, based on the mythological being. A member of the Bruderschaft des Kreuzes
Bruderschaft des Kreuzes
Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes is a professional wrestling stable in the Chikara promotion.-Background :...

(BDK) group, Tursas' appearance is true to the source material, as he wears a mask with a large beard and several large horns and is billed as being a Finn. His nickname is "The Scandinavian Messenger of War". Interestingly, one of the wrestler's stablemates is named Ares (the Greek god of war) and a recurring object in CHIKARA has been the Eye of Tyr, with Tyr being the Norse god of combat.
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