The Year of the Bear (Kovakantinen kirja)

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In the ancient times, when Finns still lived in the forest, the annual cycle of the bear's birth and death was the basis of their calendar. Part I of The Year of the Bear starts with the winter and follows the bear through all of the seasons until the following winter, from its birth to its ritual slaying and wake. The journey is illustrated with magnificent photographs by award-winning nature photographer Antti Leinonen. The 'honey paw' is presented both as an ancestor worshipped by ancient Finns and as a god who ensured the continuity of the hunting community. The replacement of the bear's year with the calendar of Christian saints is also discussed, as are the hunting frenzy that almost brought about its extinction in Finland and the animal's current position as a controversial predator. Biological information about the bear is provided alongside its mythology.

In Part II, experts from a variety of fields share their thoughts about bears. All authors discuss the exceptional relationship between the bear and man. Answers are sought to many questions, including: Is a bear a human or an animal? What was the ultimate significance of the bear cult to the ancient human community and how does it still affect the Christian church? What are encounters between bears and humans like today? and Why does a hunter hunt bears and a nature photographer shoot bears with his camera?
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