Louhi, Matron of Pohjola
In Finnish folklore Louhi is the matriarch and mighty ruler of the mythical North, Pohjola. Her influence is based on her wealth and talents. She is described as an independent elderly woman with several supernatural abilities: Louhi can weave mighty enchantments and for example, store the lights of the sky, Sun and Moon, inside the bedrock.
Louhi is also a devoted mother, whose daughters are famous for their beauty and cunning. In addition to them, the tales tell us that she had a large group of children whose diversity is astounding: from wolves to frost. Louhi is also a mentor, who has an ability to make people challenge and overcome themselves. How she summons the smith Ilmarinen to create something which has never been before or assign the young warrior Lemminkäinen to hunt down mythical moose, Hiiden Hirvi. Both tasks, which the men would not commit without proper encouragement.
The affluence of Louhi is based on her invention: Sampo-mill. It was a miraculous equipment which produced “one measure for edibles, one measure for trade and one for store” aka flour, salt, and gold.
Visionary in her time, she did not only design a gold concentration plant; Louhi also commands the manufacturer, smith Seppo Ilmarinen, to make sure to utilise the tailings as food and commodity.
So, we can consider her the first female refinery manager in history.
Louhi is a character whose mere name evokes associations with mining, earth and stones, i.e. something strong and durable. In Finnish language verbs “to mine” and “to quarry” are translated as “Louhia”.
Therefore, we in Women in Mining Finland consider that her legacy can continue in the name of our award to maintain the reputation of northern women as pioneers of equality and inclusive cooperation.
The award is a Challenge Cup, which will be given to a person in uneven years and to a company or association in even years