The grave of Katri Paavolainen, wife of rural shop owner – Tuonelan portilla (At the Gates of Tuonela, the realm of the dead)

Tuonelan portilla (At the Gates of Tuonela, the realm of the dead)

Monument made of steatite
Eemil Halonen 1906
Cemetery of Kivennapa, Russia

Made of steatite, Tuonelan portilla is on the grave of Katri Paavolainen (1859 –1903) on the cemetery hill of Kivennapa on the Karelian Isthmus. The funerary monument was most likely commissioned by her son, merchant and shop owner Pekka Paavolainen. It is said that Eemil Halonen sculpted the monument next to the cemetery at Kivennapa. The work was physically strenuous and he had asked every evening while there to heat the sauna for a very hot bath.

This work depicts the sorrow of a child who has to give up his or her own mother. The face of the mother reflects the finality of death. After the war, the funerary monument of Katri Paavolainen was the only that survived at the cemetery throughout the Soviet era, perhaps because of its universal human theme and its artistic execution. All the other Finnish gravestones were destroyed.

Photograph: Eemil Halonen, Tuonelan portilla, 1906, plaster model of the sculpture. Titus Verhe, Halonen Museum Foundation.

Wife of rural shop owner Katri Paavolainen (1859–1903, née Kääpä)

Katri Paavolainen (1859–1903, née Kääpä) was the wife of Aatami Paavolainen (1855-1897), a wealthy rural shop owner. Born into a Karelian farmer family, Aatami Paavolainen had nine brothers, of whom as many as five entered commerce. Three of the brothers married the daughters of Pietari Kääpä, a shop owner in the village of Kuokkala. Katri’s sister Maria was married to Aatami Paavolainen’s brother, rural shop owner merchant Pietari Paavolainen. Maria Paavolainen was the grandmother of Finnish author Olavi Paavolainen.

Aatami Paavolainen was a merchant and shopkeeper in the Parish of Kivennapa on the Karelian Isthmus (now part of Russia). His firm grew to become the largest in the southern part of the Karelian Isthmus. Aatami and Katri Paavolainen had fourteen children, one of whom was stillborn and three died at a very early age. Aatami Paavolainen died in 1897, and his widow six years later in 1903. Katri Paavolainen was only 44 years old when she died and her youngest children were 8, 9 and 11 years old. 



Cemetery of Kivennapa, Russia
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