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"Själen" – Seal Hunting in the Northern Baltic Sea

Foreword The following post is intended as a more academic source of information on traditional sealing in Finland and the Northern Baltic.
"Själ" is the common word for "seal" in the east-Swedish dialect spoken along the coast of Southwest Finland. The word also referes to a"soul" or a"spirit". There has been many stories in local folklore of seals being the reincarnations of people lost at sea. Seals have, nevertheless, had an important role in the livelihood and culture of coastal peoples in Finland, Sweden and Estonia. Several studies of traditional sealhunting in the northern Baltic Sea have been undertaken by Swedish and Finnish ethnographers and historians. The seal hunting traditions of the Gulf of Boothnia between Sweden and Finland have received a lot of scholary attention as sealhunting in that area was an important source of income an a very integral part of community life well in to the 20th century. There is a wealth of informati…

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