Rauni – from a thought to a dress

The idea of Rauni is actually pretty old. I remember designing the first version of the dress a few years ago in school. It wasn’t exactly the same, of course, but has taken it’s shape over the years. I remember the idea originated from a thought of a feminine dress where a simple detail would highlight the femininity. After a few versions I fell for the dress now called Rauni. Except that then the dress didn’t have a name yet. Working title was boringly “a  dartdress” or “dress with darts”. Originally I only intended to make a summer dress for myself, but after I started my business, the dress was taken along with my collection.

Idea of Rauni fits perfectly with my aim to use linen. Linen is suitable for the material of the dress more than well and linen’s nature is emphasized by the vast hem of the dress. Accordingly I wanted to honour the fabric by leaving the edge of the hem raw. So it will uneven and soften in time though it may look a little harsh as new. Idea to this came from my old scarf that I cut out of linen maybe ten years ago and left the edges raw. Now it is my favorite scarf and has been worn into this dreamy soft goodness after frequent use. It’s edges are also lightly fringed.  It came to mind that I should write about my experiences of linen’s behavior  in some channel.

No garment is ever done without a single problem. Or at least I am not that pro yet. The location of the darts have been adjusted horizontally and vertically and width has been altered and so on. I almost ditched the pockets because I wanted the zipper to be on the side seam and at first it looked like they wouldn’t both fit in the same seam because the pockets would be forced too low. The length of the zipper can’t be pinched indefinitely. Then I decided there had to be pockets. To me as a 170cm long person the height of the pockets was good but my sister being seemingly shorter and often helps me by fitting on my garments (and is a priceless help to me!) just commented they were a little bit low. I didn’t want to relocate the zipper, because I hate it in the back, or ditch the pockets so I just have to deal with it. Another problem was caused by the linen fabric itself. That is it stretched from the side so that the shape of the hem changed. But that problem was solved simply by shortening the side seam a little bit.

I came up with the name Rauni when I was thinking about names for my other garments already in the shop. I gathered a bunch of names and Rauni sounded so nice I wanted it included. It was left for later until at some point I realized: “The dress! It looks just like Rauni!” I researched the character a little and figured as a strong female figure* it completes image of Rauni the dress perfectly. (*Women in old/ancient Finnish mythology are mainly strong and independent. And the number of them is large.)

I spent a long time thinking about photographing Rauni. I have been taking product photos in a “studio” arranged in my atelier and so I did this time. But I also wanted some nice pictures for atmosphere and I had no idea how to.  Because forest is always a good idea I asked my boyfriend to help me and so off we went in the woods with a camera and a bag full of clothes. It was a little cold in a sleeveless dress in a late winter (March) forest but the photos were good. Or not in practice. They were all dark and grainy. I used a few hours editing the photos thinking how am I going to make those pictures look like something I dare to show to anyone. Because I couldn’t make them look realistic I decided it is better to make them look heavily edited instead of something that looks tacky. I bet the outcome divides opinions but I’m happy with them. I think they look picturesque and the colours are too odd to be from this world. I did dare to put them on show.

Rauni in mythology
Rauni as a character is a bit controversial and it is hard to find information about her. Apparently the only mention about her is in Michael Agricola’s Psalttari’s prologue, but that poem is hard to interpret. To clear this a little Ukko is considered a great god comparable with Thor for example. Ukko literally means “old man”. And I must point out that this translation of the next poem is my own and is in no way accurate but I did it to give you some sort of view. The poem is also very controversial, especially the line 4 about Rauni. There are many versions about what is happening on line 4 (some of the Finnish words are so old their meaning is lost), but I tried my best.

And as the spring sowing was done/ then Ukko’s toast was drunk.
For that was brought Ukko’s bushel/ so maids and wifes got drunk.
And then a lot of shame was done/ as was heard and seen.
As Rauni, Ukko’s woman (or wife?), was on heat(?)/ Ukko was greatly on heat(?) from below. (???)
So it gave weather and rain/ and käkri* increased the cattle.

*Käkri (or kekri or köyri) is an old Finnish celebration of harvest. However in this poem Agricola might have interpreted käkri as a god.

The Finnish version is very unclear about whether Rauni is Ukko’s spouce or partner or if Rauni is the name of Ukko. One interpretation says Rauni comes from a word raudna meaning rowan tree wich in turn comes from a word “rönn” meaning rowan in Swedish. And therefore Rauni the man would actually be a rowan man. The idea of Rauni’s connection with rowan apparently originates from that E.N. Setälä (a researcher of Finnish language and folk poetry and a politician) presented an interpretation that Rauni is the personification of rowan. Anyway, I need to seek more info on the character of Rauni. When the library doors open again I can borrow books about Finnish mythology again!

Find Rauni here

Chapter ”Rauni in mythology” sources:

https://www.taivaannaula.org/2012/08/06/puiden-juurilla/     In Finnish
Professor Aimo Turunen’s text ”A research about ancient Carelian people’s gods”, witch is found over here (in Finnish):


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