Aino's Mermaid Dress

'Filleted Mermaid' made from thin wire, fabric and wax, decorated with broken glass.

I have always been fascinated with the legend of the mermaid. There is something about the combining of the female and fish forms that has a powerful and sexual image. She is at once helpless and yet alluring but this hybrid creature, like all creatures of the deep stands for the unconscious, and in particular for the anima, the femine aspect within the psyche.

Aino's Mermaid Dress
The Legend of Vainmoinen and Aino

Vainmoinen was a shaman singer whose songs to the sound of the harp-like kantele were acts of creative magic. He was born old, so no one wanted to marry him. He was betrothed to Aino who disappeared to the bottom of the lake rather than live with him. He was heartbroken, he wept and wept and one day took a boat out on the lake where Aino had last been seen. He started to fish whilst day-dreaming of his beautiful lost bride and thinking about the sad lonely life he would lead without her when he caught a beautiful mermaid who he recognised as Aino.
She spoke to him saying she would never leave her homeland to live with him, to leave her brother and parents to cook and clean. She now belonged to the lake and would live there with the water maidens. Vainmoinen was so distraught at loosing her for a second time. He trawled the lake with the vast nets but in vain, Aino had slipped away.