Liekkiö – leg warmer and a dead child

Leg warmers are a part of everyday wear, aren’t they? I like to wear them so it was obvious that they would be a part of my collection. I have been designing different sorts of leg warmers probably for as long as I have been desingning clothes in general. Starting point for Liekkiö was a pair of leg warmers that I had done earlier. They are made of recycled leather, rib, rivets and lined with sateen. So they are basically very alike Liekkiö. I made those leg warmers because I was intrigued by the idea of combining leather and rib. And since it was a success and I was going to make ones out of linen, I decided to transfer that idea to them. I thought that because of rib the leg warmers might mold into different shapes of legs nicely and make it easy to dress and to use in everyday dressing.

I was inspired by medieval times when designing Liekkiö and it’s previous design. Specially the source of inspiration was those iron doors with lines of rivets. Additionally I wanted some shape to the edges because they are quite boring when straight. Up (and down) mounting angle is pretty often used, but I think looks really beautiful.

It took some time to get these leg warmers ready as it took a lot longer to find suitable rivets than I thought. I also tried to find rivets made of recycled metal but for my disappointment I couldn’t find any. I guess they don’t exist yet… (Tell me if you know they do!) Maybe some day I’ll get ones like that.

What is Liekkiö?

In general Liekkiö is the spirit of a child or a baby died unbaptized, abandoned or murdered. Reasons for death or causing it are many: being born outside marriage, mother’s situation in life, disease or disability etc. Liekkiö can emerge as a will o’ the wisp or as a bird or not show itself at all and only make noises. Usually that ghost emerged in the dark around where it’s body had been hidden. And for so long as it’s  life should have lasted had it not been ripped away. It may scream for justice for itself or just tease the passers-by by following and repeating what was said. Sometimes it screams, laughs, moans or cries like a little child or croaks like a crow. In worst case scenario it might even mislead people with it’s crying. If one ended up being teased by liekkiö, it could be driven away by reminding it to go and tease it’s murderer or mother or by asking something related to Christianity like: “Where were you when Christ was crusified?” This belief is propably from Catholic era (medieval era) when all haunters were believed to flinch for i.e. Lord’s Prayer.

First written evidence of leikkiö is in 1551 Mikael Agricola’s Dauid’s Psalttari’s introduction where liekkiö is mentioned as a false god:

Liekkiö ruled grasses, roots and trees/ and other sorts alike.”

This refers quite clearly to burying unwanted children most likely into the ground. 

“Ihtiriekko” (ihti= self, “soul”; riekko= willow grouse, in this case might also refer to it’s croaking) is another similar ghost. In Northern Finlad there was also “äpärä”, a bastard. The word is still in use, but no more refers to a mischievous ghost of a dead child but instead to a bastard.

Despite it’s grim essence liekkiö was usually not dreaded of. But on the other hand death and the spirits of the dead were present in everyday life anyway so maybe that had already hardened the Finnish mindset. Admiration of death was deep in the culture and could be seen even in lullabys.

Come, come to underworld,
over there to church’s chamber,
There is hut with roof of peat,
fine sand field,
back wall of dear’s bones
side wall of cricket’s bones
floor weaved of straws,
stools build of steel,
tables adorned with gold.

(Pieksämäki, 1934)

Sources for chapter “What is Liekkiö?”:
Book: Katkera manalan kannu, Kuoleman kulttuurihistoria Suomessa (Bitter jug of the underworld, Death’s cultural history in Finland), Heikki Lehikoinen, 2011, Teos

Wikipedia: Liekkiö

Translation of line in Dauid’s Psalttari: me

Lullaby: (in Finnish, translated by me)


Täytä tietosi alle tai klikkaa kuvaketta kirjautuaksesi sisään:

Olet kommentoimassa -tilin nimissä. Log Out /  Muuta )


Olet kommentoimassa Facebook -tilin nimissä. Log Out /  Muuta )

Muodostetaan yhteyttä palveluun %s