Artefactum 9

FIGURE 1. The frock coat from Professor Elias Lönnrot’s uniform. National Museum of Finland, KM H31025:6. Photo: Alex Snellman.

Alex Snellman – Krista Vajanto – Jenni Suomela


The Professorial Uniform of Elias Lönnrot: Russian Imperial Materiality in Finland

Elias Lönnrot’s professorial uniform sheds new light on the uniform system of the Grand Duchy of Finland (1809–1917). In this article, we combine the perspectives of historical, material and craft studies and examine the materiality of the uniform, focusing on its biography, materials and relation to imperial power.


A Civil Uniform as a Case Study

In January 1854, in freezing cold weather, a provincial doctor arrived in Helsinki. He and his family moved to the capital of the Finnish Grand Duchy from the distant northern town of Kajaani. The humble medical doctor was named Elias Lönnrot (1802–1884) and he had been nominated as the professor of Finnish language and literature at the Imperial Alexander University of Helsinki. He was considered fully qualified, as five years earlier he had published the final edition of the Finnish national epic Kalevala.[1]

The professorship required practical arrangements in Helsinki. A suitable accommodation was found, and furniture was bought. In addition, he needed a professorial uniform. Luckily, his friend was able to buy him a second-hand uniform from Professor Gabriel Geitlin (1804–1871), who had exchanged his secular clothing for clerical dress.[2] The professorial uniform was a tailcoat at that point. The next year (1855), the Finnish civil uniform system was reformed, and the new regulations required a frock coat instead of a tailcoat.[3] The buttons and embroidered parts of Lönnrot’s second-hand uniform were in all probability removed and attached to the new frock coat.

Our article examines Lönnrot’s frock coat (figure 1)[4] from the collections of the National Museum of Finland and demonstrates how, through this single case, we can interpret the neighbouring civil uniform systems of Finland and Russia. Lönnrot’s professorial uniform coat (object number KM H31025:6) is a beautiful early example of the uniform reform of 1855, and because of its connection to the professorship of the creator of the Kalevala, it is perhaps the most significant civil uniform coat in the collections of the National Museum.[5]

Even though Finland was part of the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century, in several ways the Finnish Grand Duchy and its Russian mother country were more like neighbours. They had separate administrations, nobilities and civil servants, who in the nineteenth century used uniforms in the same manner as the military. Although Ole Gripenberg in his Civiluniformer i Finland (1969)[6] sketched the outlines of the Finnish civil uniform system, he did not cover it extensively nor demonstrate 1) how it was based on Russian models, 2) discuss the exact materials used in the uniforms or 3) how they formed a material system of imperial power. In this article, we answer those three questions in the case of Lönnrot’s uniform and show that further research would benefit from the multidisciplinary perspectives of historical, material and craft studies that we combine here.

In the following, we answer the three questions mentioned above and devote a section to each. The first section not only introduces the Russian model of Lönnrot’s uniform, but also follows the biography of his uniform from that model to the present moment. We can examine the Russian model because Leonid Shepelëv has published extensively on the Russian civil uniform system.[7] We can trace the biography of the uniform based on archival studies in the archives of the Finnish Literature Society and Aarne Anttila’s seminal biography on Lönnrot.[8]

The next section analyses how the uniform was constructed and which were its materials, revealing more in-depth information than the traditional cursory description of materials as being merely broadcloth and velvet. For the first time in Finland, we have analysed the materials of a uniform coat scientifically at the Aalto University Nanomicroscopy Centre. Samples were analysed with optical and electron microscopy as well as element analysis.

The final section examines the symbolism and agency of the uniform as a form of imperial power. We discuss its role in imperial power through the concept of agency of artefacts, which is based on the ideas of Bruno Latour in particular.[9] He argues that not only living things can act: objects can have agency, too, although not intentional agency, of course. Alex Snellman has proposed that the year of the agential turn – the breakthrough of Latourian ideas – would be 2010, when several important books emphasised the agency of artefacts.[10]


The Biography of Lönnrot’s Uniform

The piece of clothing that later became known as Lönnrot’s uniform had its origins in the extensive practice of nineteenth-century monarchies to clothe their subjects in uniforms. It reflected the bureaucratisation of the state and the militarisation of clothing as most monarchs donned military uniforms in the nineteenth century. The uniforms of Napoleon’s marshals were an important inspiration. French dress in eighteenth-century style was replaced by a tailcoat (frac), which derived from an English riding-coat. Formal French dress had been colourful and had given plenty of opportunities for social distinction with embroideries and trimmings and expensive materials such as silk and velvet. According to Philip Mansel, the new tailcoat, often of simple broadcloth, created a problem: ‘Throughout the early nineteenth century people would lament not only the funereal colour of most fracs (they were usually black) but also the frac’s inability to distinguish between the classes, or even between masters and servants.’ He concluded that uniforms solved the problem. In civil uniforms, the broadcloth tailcoat in sombre colours was retained, but the collar and cuffs were often of different colours and material, and they were adorned with gold or silver embroidery. The standing collar was the perfect background for the embroidery, and it became the most conspicuous feature of nineteenth-century civil uniforms.[11]

Several civil uniforms were introduced in the Russian Empire already in the late eighteenth century. However, it was only at the turn of the nineteenth century that they acquired the typical features of civil uniforms: a standing collar, a tailcoat cut and systematic embroideries to denote the rank and administrative branch of the uniformed person. In the sphere of education, the Educational Districts of the Empire (including their universities) were the first to receive each their own uniforms with different embroideries between the years 1802 and 1834. At first, even the minister of public enlightenment (i.e. education) used the uniform of the St Petersburg District.[12] The Grand Duchy of Finland was separate from these educational districts of the mother country. Still, in 1817, the introduction of the first professorial uniform for the Finnish university, which at this point was still located in Turku, followed the general trend of different embroideries for different educational regions.[13]

The Finnish professorial uniform of 1817 had a single-breasted tailcoat of dark blue broadcloth. The uniform remained dark blue until the end of the Imperial Era in 1917. Ole Gripenberg has noted that the choice of colour was ‘according to old tradition from Sweden-Finland’, as dark blue was the typical colour of Swedish uniforms, whereas dark green would have been the typical colour for Russian uniforms. The remark is misleading, however, because even in Russia the educational administration had dark blue uniforms. The Finnish professorial uniform reflected this imperial practice, not Swedish tradition.[14]

According to the 1817 regulation, the buttons of the professorial uniform were ‘yellow’. It had cuffs and a standing collar of black velvet with embroideries. The waistcoat was to be ‘of some white fabric’. Ordinarily, the coat was used with dark blue broadcloth pantaloons and boots, but on festive occasions white breeches and silk stockings were used together with buckled shoes. There was a sword and, as a mark of distinction, on its hilt a ribbon that ended with a tassel. The ensemble was topped off with a bicorne hat that was called, somewhat confusingly, a ‘triangular hat’ (not to be confused with a tricorne). The pattern of the embroidery (figure 2) has later been described as a laurel branch, which still has symbolic use in Finnish universities, but it might be an olive branch instead. The latter was an attribute of Minerva and Wisdom, and accordingly, a suitable choice as well. The names of the plants were not mentioned in uniform regulations, so they are later interpretations of illustrations. The Russian Educational Districts all had different plants in their patterns, so it is no surprise that the Finnish pattern was not like any of them. At the same time as the professors received their uniforms, the university students received similar uniforms as well. [15] The student cap that is still used in Finland today is a remnant of this academic uniform system.

FIGURE 2. The portrait of Professor Fredrik Wilhelm Pipping (1783–1868) in professorial uniform with the robes of the rector of the Imperial Alexander University of Helsinki. He is wearing Russian imperial decorations, which are partly visible: on his neck, the Order of Saint Anne, 2nd class, and on his chest, the Order of Saint Vladimir, 4th class. On his chest, there is also a badge for impeccable service. Painted by Carl Peter Mazér 1836–1837. See Galleria Academica 1961: 29–32, Fig. 41; Klinge 1989: 119; Ars Universitaria 1990: 50–51. For more on decorations, see Talvio 2000. For biographical information on all professors, see Autio 2004. Photo: Helsinki University Museum.

The uniform regulations of 1839 unified and systematised the uniform system of the Grand Duchy of Finland. The regulations were modelled after a similar unifying reform in the Russian Empire from 1834. At this point, the professorial uniform of the Finnish university, now called Imperial Alexander University and located in Helsinki, was changed. Now it contained the embroidery that we see on Lönnrot’s uniform (figure 1). Ole Gripenberg has not explained this change, but a model of the new uniform can be found in Leonid Shepelëv’s publications.[16] The new Finnish professorial embroidery was, in fact, the embroidery of the Russian Ministry of Public Enlightenment. The ministry and the minister had received it in 1810. The pattern is not named, but we can probably agree that it is a palm branch (figure 3a–b). It is understandable that Gripenberg did not recognise the model, as he seems to have interpreted one of the educational district uniforms as the uniform of the ministry. In the 1839 regulations, the colour of the velvet containing the embroidery was changed from black to dark blue. The number of buttons was now fixed at nine, whereas an earlier regulation (1827) had mentioned eight buttons. In other respects, the uniform remained essentially the same dark blue tailcoat of broadcloth as in 1817 (figure 4).[17]

FIGURE 3a. There were four levels of embroidery for cuffs and collar: no embroidery, embroidered border, half embroidery and full embroidery; see Gripenberg 1969; Gripenberg 1969b. Professors had half embroidery on both, as depicted on the illustrations from the 1839 uniform regulations (Ritningar till snitten för civila uniformer och uniforms frackar). The translated text reads: ‘Half embroidery for the uniforms of the educational administration. Embroidery of gold on dark blue velvet. Cuffs round.’ The illustrations were not attached to the regulations; they can be found separately at the library of the National Archives of Finland and at the Picture Collections of the National Board of Antiquities. Photo: Alex Snellman.
FIGURE 3b. The collar of Professor Elias Lönnrot’s uniform. Height 7.5 cm measured from the back. National Museum of Finland, KM H31025:6. Photo: Alex Snellman.

As mentioned above, Lönnrot’s friend bought the uniform from Professor Gabriel Geitlin in January of 1854. Professor Geitlin had become the professor of oriental literature already in 1835,[18] when the previous olive branch embroidery (figure 2) was still in use. At that time, he probably had eight buttons on his uniform based on the 1827 regulation. Soon thereafter, the new embroidery (figure 3a–b) was adopted, and he probably replaced the embroidered parts of his coat. As the separate embroidered parts in the museum collections show, they were easily attached to the coat and could be bought separately, probably mostly from the imperial capital of St Petersburg. The collections of the Turku Museum Centre even contain a collar embroidery that is still in the original manufacturer’s package. In 1849, Professor Geitlin became a professor of theology and was ordained a priest. The contemporaneous portraits and photographs show that such priestly professors adopted clerical dress. Professor Geitlin no longer needed his professorial uniform, although he retired only in 1864. The uniform, relinquished by Geitlin in 1849 and bought by Lönnrot in 1854, most likely had the following characteristics: a dark blue broadcloth tailcoat (model 1817–1855) with golden palm branch embroidery on dark blue velvet (model 1839–1904). By assuming that Professor Geitlin had reused parts of his old uniform that were made before the 1839 regulation, we can also explain why today there are only eight buttons on Lönnrot’s uniform, although nine were required after 1839. They probably were a legacy of Geitlin’s original uniform. Unlike the highly visible embroideries, the acquisition of one missing button was hardly imperative, particularly if identical buttons were not available and the new one would have stood out. This biography of the uniform that Lönnrot bought in 1854 cannot be proven, of course, but it is the most likely explanation that the coat itself and our sources provide.[19]

FIGURE 4. The illustrations of the 1839 uniform regulations (Ritningar till snitten för civila uniformer och uniforms frackar) include a general model for the cut of all uniforms. The examples depicted in the sample illustration show a judicial official (on left) and a medical official, such as a provincial doctor (on right). The translated text reads: ‘Drawing for the cut of civil uniforms in general’. The library of the National Archives of Finland. Photo: Alex Snellman.

By comparing Lönnrot’s uniform (figure 1) and the illustrated model of the coat that he should have worn in January 1854 (figure 4), we notice that one more reform of the uniform system had been carried out. It occurred already in June 1855, when the tailcoats were changed to frock coats. In Swedish, the regulation used the word ‘surtout’, and interestingly, the Cunningtons mention that in the 1850s, surtout was another name for the frock coat, even in English.[20] The Finnish frock coat reform was Russian in origin: it was carried out in the mother country, too.[21] Before that, for a year and a half, Lönnrot had used Geitlin’s tailcoat, and the first impression was not favourable. One observer noted that ‘I have surely never seen any person so ill-equipped to wear a uniform’.[22]

FIGURE 5. Elias Lönnrot in ordinary frock coat. Painted by Bernhard Reinhold in 1872. Photo: Helsinki University Museum.

The fact that the coat was second-hand and not made according to his measurements might have contributed to the poor impression. Furthermore, as a medical doctor with a lower-class background and from a distant town, Lönnrot was not accustomed to uniforms. Some years earlier he had written to a colleague that it was economical to live in Kajaani because he had never needed a uniform there.[23] On official occasions, the uniform of the medical administration (figure 4) would have been necessary for a provincial doctor like him, but he could avoid such situations in that remote town. Earlier he had even expressed his distaste for the busy university life in Helsinki ‘with its exam worries, its official visits and uniforms, its domestic and foreign guests, proof sheets, and society committees, surety obligations and their payments’.[24] Excluding his appearance in uniform, Lönnrot made a favourable impression on those who wrote about him. It was mentioned that he was a little above medium height and relatively sturdy. He had brown and lively eyes. Lönnrot’s hair became grey early and his skin was fairly dark. His demeanour was simple, modest and friendly.[25]

It is likely that when Professor Lönnrot in June 1855 reacted to the regulation requiring a change in the cut of the coat, he decided to order a new coat instead of wearing the second-hand coat that had made such a bad impression. Unfortunately, we do not have sources that would shed light on the tailoring of this new uniform.[26] However, there was no reason to change the embroideries and buttons, which in all probability were transferred to the new frock coat. We will return to this question below, when we take a closer look at the materials used for the coat. For now, it will suffice to summarise the key years of Lönnrot’s uniform biography thus far:

  • 1810 palm branch embroidery in Russia
  • 1817 dark blue broadcloth coat for professors in Finland
  • 1827 regulation requiring eight buttons
  • 1839 golden palm branch embroidery on dark blue velvet in Finland
  • 1854 Professor Geitlin sold his uniform to Professor Lönnrot
  • 1855 tailcoats changed to frock coats.

When Lönnrot received the professorship, he was already over 50 years old, and his formal academic career was brief. When he turned 60 in 1862, he became entitled to a pension. He retired and received the honorary title of chancellery counsellor, which was in the sixth class of the table of ranks of the Grand Duchy and corresponded accordingly to the rank of colonel in the army. He did not stop working, however. In retirement, he published a Finnish–Swedish dictionary, took part in the writing of a new hymn book and carried on his work on folk poetry. He no longer needed his professorial uniform and was depicted in plain clothes in his favourite portrait (figure 5). It seems that there are no illustrations that depict him with his uniform and imperial decorations. In 1884, at the age of 81 years, the creator of the Kalevala died in his home in Sammatti, in the Finnish countryside. Of his family, only a daughter survived him.[27]

Though Lönnrot’s personal biography drew to a close, the biography of his professorial uniform continued. In his last will and testament (1882), he left most of his belongings to his daughter, Ida Lönnrot.[28] In his probate inventory (1884), clothing is mentioned only en masse: ‘Den aflidnes gång- och linnekläder samt fotplagg m.m. tillsammas 300 [mark]’, that is, ‘The deceased’s clothes and linen as well as footwear, etc., total 300 [marks]’.[29] Both the testament and the probate inventory are silent on the uniform. There was an auction immediately after his death, but the uniform was not explicitly mentioned there either if it was not one of the two frock coats that were sold. At the auction, Lönnrot’s doctoral hat was sold to the parish clerk of Sammatti, Mr Heiskanen, who simply removed the pleated silk from the hat and reused the fabric.[30] Ida Lönnrot, who had inherited enough money to start an independent life, moved abroad and remained unmarried. She finally settled down in Italy. There, in Siena, she died in 1915. Her father’s professorial uniform is not mentioned in her testament.[31] Neither is it mentioned in those documents by which her beneficiaries donated Elias Lönnrot’s remaining objects to the National Museum of Finland.[32]

Instead, mention of Lönnrot’s uniform appeared years later, quite suddenly, in the minutes of the Finnish Literature Society in 1931. We can read that it belonged to the Society at that point.[33] Archival research has not yet shown how the Society received the uniform, but a more thorough search (reading the minutes from Lönnrot’s retirement in 1862 to 1931) would probably provide the answer. For the purposes of this article, that exercise is not necessary as we have no reason to doubt the Society’s claim that it owned the professorial uniform of its late honorary chairman. It is possible that Elias Lönnrot himself had donated it to the Finnish Literature Society during his retirement (1862–1884), or else perhaps it was bought at the auction (being one of the frock coats mentioned) or possibly his daughter sold or donated it to the Society during her lifetime.

In 1931, the Finnish Literature Society decided to deposit its collection of Lönnrot’s objects, including his uniform, in the National Museum of Finland.[34] There, the uniform was received by the ethnographic department, which also received the donations of Ida Lönnrot’s beneficiaries and some later donations as well. Then, the objects were transferred to the historic department in several lots, which were mixed and renumbered so that the lot numbers in the museum collections do not correspond to the original batches of objects that the museum received. Because the Society had only deposited its objects, not donated them, there is now a single lot number both for Lönnrot’s objects owned by the National Museum and the objects owned by the Finnish Literature Society. Elias Lönnrot’s professorial uniform (KM H31025:6) belongs to the latter.[35]

During its object biography, it has travelled a long journey. Its buttons might predate 1839, when its embroideries were likely made, their pattern being that of the Russian Ministry of Public Enlightenment of 1810. Its broadcloth was probably cut in 1855, and together with its master, the coat retired in 1862. It led a seemingly uneventful life during the next decades and ended up in the hands of the Finnish Literature Society. From 1931 onwards, it has been in the National Museum. There it was included in a temporary exhibition called Henkilökohtaista (‘Personal’) in 2002. The exhibition presented objects from interesting persons in Finnish history. Before that, it probably was not on display, although the exhibition records are not complete.[36] In 2017, a new favourable period of its biography began. Lönnrot’s uniform was relocated to the new Collections Centre of the museum, where it now rests in an ideal environment.


Construction and Materials

The professorial uniform of Elias Lönnrot is an impressive sight, as civil uniforms usually are. It is made of dark blue and fulled broadcloth with conspicuous gold-work embroidery on the cuffs and on the standing collar. For the most part, the construction of the frock coat follows the illustration of the uniform regulations from 1839 (figure 4). Pattern-wise, the most striking detail is the front bodice. Compared to modern men’s coats, the front piece continues from the sides and shoulders all the way to the back, so that there are no seams on the sides or on top of the shoulders (figures 6a–c, table 1). This was a standard feature of tailcoats and frock coats until the 1840s, at least in British fashion. After that, the coat patterns included the side bodies that are familiar to us today.[37]

One interesting detail in the coat can be found in back of the hem. On both sides, there are pieces cut at a 45° angle that do not seem to have any function at all. They do not alter the shape nor have a decorative meaning. This probably must have something to do with pattern arrangements on the fabric before cutting.[38] Another difference from a modern-day coat are the paddings. Instead of having a thick padding on the shoulders, the coats of the first half of the nineteenth century emphasised the chest. With this particular frock coat, the chest part is fairly heavily padded (the stitched area in figure 6c), and the padding continues thinly until the shoulders (sample 13). The sleeves are inset and slightly wider at the cuffs. When visually estimating the proportions, the sleeves look somewhat long and narrow compared to the other dimensions of the coat. Along the left-side hip, there is a small opening of 6 centimetres (cm) for a ceremonial sword (figures 6b, 8).

The collar of the coat is quite high (7.5 cm, measured from the back), which usually indicates that it is from the first half of the nineteenth century. The four civil uniform tailcoats from that period in the collections of the National Museum have the following collar heights: KM H6157:1 (9 cm); KM H8196:6 (7 cm); KM H69036:1 (9 cm); KM H69036:2 (6.5 cm). In the newer coats, the height is typically 4–6 cm.

The buttoning represents a departure from the regulations of 1839. There should be nine buttons in the front, but this coat has only eight. The unusual number of buttons might indicate that they were originally purchased before 1839, as the 1827 regulation required only eight buttons. All the buttons are similar, golden in colour, and decorated with the Russian double-headed eagle. The Finnish lion can be found on its inescutcheon. In addition, there are three buttons on both cuffs. In the back, there are two buttons on the waist and two buttons at the lower ends of the vertical pockets. 

It is possible to detect some visual signs of wear. On the left shoulder, there are at least three holes, probably made by moths. The holes in the lining were probably caused by wear. All the seams are hand-sewn with professionally small stiches. The broadcloth does not fray, which was an advantage: the hemline is left with a cut edge and is not hemmed at all. The connecting seams in the hem are butt seams, sewn without seam allowance. The structures of the coat were analysed only visually, so we cannot definitely determine the seams that are covered by the interlining, but presumably they are plain seams.

Altogether, 15 samples were collected from the coat of Elias Lönnrot, from fabrics that were clearly different from each other in visual analysis by structure, colour or material (table 2, table 3). Yarn samples were approximately 5 millimetres (mm) long and collected from places where the yarns were popping up, that is, from the seams or the edges of existing holes. Metal from the buttons was collected simply by wiping the button with a piece of double-sided carbon tape.

Morphological features of scale form, medulla, lumen, cross-section and longitudinal appearance were observed to identify the fibre materials as wool, silk, cotton or bast fibre.[39] As an additional method, a modified Herzog test that reveals the orientation of microfibrils was applied to the bast fibre material to distinguish the species (flax, nettle, hemp).[40] Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to observe the surface morphology, while the inner structures of fibre material were observed using optical transmitted and/or polarized (TML/POL) light microscopy.

TLM samples were placed on objective slides, and a drop of Entellan® medium was dropped on the fibres before placing the covering slide. Imaging of the samples was performed with a Leica DM4500P optical microscope integrated with LAS core 4.5 software and a Leica DFC420 camera with a resolution of five megapixels. SEM samples were placed on a piece of double-sided carbon tape that had been placed on an aluminium stub. For imaging, the fibres were coated with a 10-nanometre thick layer of carbon (C) using a Leica EM ACE 600 sputter coater to make the samples conductive. Most SEM micrographs were taken with a Zeiss Sigma VP microscope with an acceleration voltage of 1.5 kilovolts, while element analysis of the metal lamella and button (samples 9 and 15) were performed with a Jeol 7500 FA microscope with an acceleration voltage of 15 kV.

FIGURE 6a. The coat from the front and the location of the sampling spots. Illustration (based on photographs and not drawn to scale): Krista Vajanto & Jenni Suomela.
FIGURE 6b. The coat from the back and the location of the sampling spots. Illustration (based on photographs and not drawn to scale): Krista Vajanto & Jenni Suomela.
FIGURE 6c. The inside of the coat and the location of the sampling spots. Illustration (based on photographs and not drawn to scale): Krista Vajanto & Jenni Suomela.

TABLE 1. Measurements of the coat.

Measured area

Length (cm)

Chest (circumference)


Waist (circumference)


Hip (circumference)












Total length (in the back) 


Total length (in the front) 


TABLE 2. Thread counts of the fabrics.


Sample number

Horizontal yarn system, yarns/cm 

Vertical yarn system, yarns/cm 

Blue woollen broadcloth 

11 & 14



Grey plain-woven lining 




Beige satin lining 




Sleeve's lining from the armpit, white plain weave 





TABLE 3. Samples and the fibre analysis results. Photos: Krista Vajanto / Aalto University at OtaNano - Nanomicroscopy Centre.


The blue broadcloth (samples 11 and 14) was made of fine sheep’s wool close to that of merino quality. Most of the fibres were white, but some naturally pigmented black fibres existed, too. In a heavily dark blue fabric, the pigmented fibres increase the darkness of the fabric, so this kind of wool was the logical choice for such a purpose. Interestingly, the wool fibres from the hem (sample 11) were coated with some organic particles, which might consist of the blue colour pigment and dirt. In addition, mould growth could clearly be detected on the fibres. This might either indicate the manufacturing conditions for the fabric or tell about the wear history of the coat. The fibres from the inner part of the coat (sample 14) were clean and without any mould.

The gold-work embroidery with palm branches had a standardised motif that was made with metal lamella yarns of various densities and sequins. The metal lamella was only 0.5 millimetres wide and very evenly cut from gold-plated silver (sample 9). The lamella had been wrapped around silk (Bombyx mori) core yarn (samples 8 and 12). The visual colour of the silk core yarns was yellowish, perhaps dyed with some yellow-yielding plant to achieve a golden effect.

The present colour of the velvet in the standing collar and cuffs is dark brownish, but the original dark blue is visible inside the sleeves (figure 7a–b). In microscopic analysis, the colour of the velvet fibres varied form purplish to yellowish (sample 10). During the mid-nineteenth century, the most likely source of blue colour was a tropical indigo pigment (Indigofera tinctoria).[41] Usually, indigo-dyed textiles maintain their shade of colour well because the pigment itself is quite stable. However, certain deposition conditions, such as changes in oxygen levels and the pH value, can cause colour change from blue to yellowish. Other possible reasons for colour change might be human sweat, cleaning or washing of the fabric, ageing of the material, moisture, incorrect storage conditions or prolonged exposure to UV light.

FIGURE 7a. The cuff of Professor Elias Lönnrot’s uniform. National Museum of Finland, KM H31025:6. Photo: Alex Snellman.
FIGURE 7b. The inside of the sleeve shows at least three different lining fabrics. The original blue colour of the velvet is visible. National Museum of Finland, KM H31025:6. Photo: Jenni Suomela.

The lining of the coat consists of several materials. The upper part is lined with a dense satin woven cotton (Gossypium spp.) fabric that is nowadays beige in colour (sample 3). The hem is lined with a dark grey plain weave cotton fabric, in which one yarn system is more yellowish and the other more greyish in colour (sample 1). From the sleeves, it was possible to identify at least three different fabrics (figure 7b). The material from the top of the sleeves was a plain weave cotton fabric (sample 6). 

FIGURE 8. The inside of the coat. The opening for a ceremonial sword is visible under the leather strip. National Museum of Finland, KM H31025:6. Photo: Alex Snellman.

Cotton was identified in the padding material (sample 13) as well. It was also present in the interlining (sample 5) and in the sewing yarn from the upper seam of the collar (sample 7). However, the cotton fibres were slightly different from each other in all of these samples; that might indicate  different origins, manufacturing processes or harvesting times of the seed fibres. In addition, the cotton sewing thread had some blue fibres, too, which suggests that the yarn had originally been dyed to a blueish colour. In the back seam, a sewing thread from the lining was of silk (sample 2). Flax (Linum usitatissimum) was found in the supporting ribbon of the waistline (sample 4).

Brass is a mixture of copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn), and it was found in the button (sample 15). This sample was from the back side of the button, which actually was greener in colour than the front side. Samples from the front side were basically empty, maybe because of a failed sampling or maybe the metal was just too tightly fixed on the button’s surface and was not caught by the sampling tape. There is the possibility that the brass buttons are gold-plated because there is no visible oxidation on the golden-looking and shiny front side of the buttons.

FIGURE 9. A button from the coat. The Russian double-headed eagle with the Finnish lion on its inescutcheon. National Museum of Finland, KM H31025:6. Photo: Alex Snellman.


A Material System of Imperial Power

Imperial power was not only based on the administration, the judiciary or the army. It was also supported by a system of visual symbols and material objects. The connection between Lönnrot’s uniform and the power of Russian emperors and their imperial state would have been traditionally established by emphasising the symbolic aspects of the uniform.[42] These are, of course, still relevant. On the buttons, the Russian double-headed eagle, crowned with the imperial crown, explicitly denotes such power, even while the Finnish lion reminds us that the Grand Duchy had a separate administration (figure 9). The collapse of the empire (1917) made civil uniforms immediately antiquated, as such buttons could not represent public authority in the Finnish republic. Almost all Finns must have recognised the symbolism of the double-headed eagle, whereas the dark blue colour of the fabric and the palm branch embroideries that represented the Russian educational administration were probably understood by few. The blue could be interpreted as a Swedish tradition, as mentioned earlier.[43] Those in academia could, of course, draw a comparison between the palm branch pattern and its use in antiquity and in the arts. There it symbolised, among other things, Victory and, in the case of professors, perhaps more suitably Fame and apparently also Apollo, whose secondary attribute it was, the laurel being Apollo’s primary attribute.[44] In fact, authorities planned that a statue of Apollo would crown the main facade of the Imperial Alexander University of Helsinki, but that plan came to naught.[45] Finally, it is entirely possible that the palm branch was simply a convenient and familiar decorative element and there was no explicit, intended symbolism in the embroidery. Several Russian educational districts had an oak branch pattern in their embroideries,[46] even if it is now usually interpreted as a symbol of military valour.[47] Hence, there is a clear risk of over-interpreting the meaning of these embroideries.

On a more general level, the uniform symbolised hierarchy, stability, order and discipline, bureaucratization and militarization, the hold of the state. It included the professors in the same uniformed group as noblemen, courtiers, administrative officials and military officers – those in the clothes of imperial power. It differentiated them from the middle and upper classes wearing plain clothes in European fashion and even more clearly from the ordinary people, who in the first half of the nineteenth century still often used their traditional peasant clothing.[48] The level of embroidery (no embroidery, embroidered border, half embroidery or full embroidery)[49] was a self-evident symbol of hierarchical position; its golden colour in sparkling sequins and gilded threads was a symbol of prestige and imperial grandeur.

However, interpreting the uniform solely from symbolic perspectives tends to divert one’s attention from its concrete materiality. If we consider the uniform and its parts as symbols, we are interested in the interplay between the symbols and the phenomena they symbolise. In such an analysis, the underlying materiality is often overlooked. The uniform is perhaps not examined at all; its visual and textual representations being considered adequate for such an analysis. As Bjørnar Olsen observantly noted, ‘the important sources of meaning always seem located outside the signifier (the object, the text) in question’.[50] In the previous section, we examined the materiality of Lönnrot’s uniform on a microscopic level, but we can examine that materiality also on a theoretical level thanks to the concept of the agency of artefacts.[51]

The agency of artefacts is, to a significant extent, based on Bruno Latour’s theoretical thinking. Latour argues that not only living things can act: objects can have agency, too. Unlike human agency, the agency of artefacts is not intentional, of course. This concept, as sketched here, it is not a direct and faithful application of Latour’s actor-network-theory.[52] Instead, it is a more generalised set of ideas that is currently shared by several scholars in different fields. They share the idea that objects can have agency – they are not just symbols or representations of something else. It seems to be a reaction to that set of ideas in vogue at the end of the twentieth century that under various titles – be it semiotics, cultural turn or poststructuralism – in various fields endangered the research of concrete materiality. Whereas with symbols we are interested in what they symbolise, or with signs what is their ‘signified’, if we define the uniform as an agent instead, the focus reverts from the phenomena outside the uniform – as Olsen put it – to the uniform itself. This seemingly minor shift of focus enables us to study concrete artefacts in a theoretically-grounded way. The object of study also becomes its subject, its actor or agent. With a post-humanist emphasis, it is not necessary to constantly reduce the meaning of the object to human experience and regard it merely as an appendage of human agency. It is not advisable to give the object solely an instrumental value, to utilise it only in order say something about those outside phenomena, be it art, consumption, culture, fashion, population, power, society or the like. The object can genuinely be the focus of the study.[53] That is why an object biography[54] is such an opportune form of inquiry for a study that emphasises the agency of artefacts: there, the agential artefact itself is in the leading role.

Now we can ask – not only how Lönnrot’s uniform symbolised imperial power (that was outside the uniform) – but how it was part of imperial power, which was immanent in the uniform as agency. Civil uniforms enable, prevent and shape things – they have agency. A uniform does not just symbolise an individual’s position in hierarchies and groups; it shapes that position to a large extent. This idea is famously depicted in a film about the Captain from Köpenick (Germany, 1956). He was an impostor who, in 1906, masqueraded as a Prussian military officer, rounded up a few soldiers under his command and – because of his uniform – could seize more than 4,000 marks from a municipal treasury.[55] His uniform did not symbolise or represent his position, because that position was non-existent. It temporarily created that position. The impostor acted – and so did his uniform. Similarly, Lönnrot’s uniform acted with him when they together created the visual and tactile aspects of his position as professor of Finnish language and literature. However, their interplay was not a success at first, as Lönnrot was not accustomed to his uniform, which was not made to measure, nor the uniform to Lönnrot.

Lönnrot’s uniform kept him warm. Its high standing collar forced his head upright. Its tightness prevented, or at least tried to prevent, him from moving hastily. Overall, it disciplined him and held him in the embrace of imperial power. The uniform altered the way others acted in his presence and it could give him more self-confidence on formal occasions, a feeling of being protected by the official position and the long coat. However, Lönnrot’s distaste for uniforms could have made such occasions unpleasant. In Kajaani, he had sometimes walked barefoot,[56] but in uniform he had to use shoes and was imprisoned inside a white shirt, waistcoat and neckcloth and the dark blue coat of smooth luxuriously-feeling broadcloth, which was padded in the chest to create a manly impression. He had to store it so that moths did not eat the imperially regulated coat. He had to eat in a controlled fashion so as not to dirty the silky velvet and gilded thread of his cuffs with gravy or spill wine on the precious coat. When eating, he could not move his head much because the collar and the neckcloth limited his movement. The fairly tight sleeves limited the movement of his hands. He wore dark blue trousers, but his calves were probably not padded, as would have been fashionable in the early nineteenth century when tighter breeches and pantaloons were used. He was sturdy, but probably not so overweight that he would have needed a corset, which was occasionally used by uniformed men. The uniform regulations remained silent on the underwear he would have worn.[57]

A sword and its tasselled ribbon hung at Lönnrot’s side and, on his chest and neck, Russian imperial decorations. They restricted his movement, or at least twirled uncontrollably when he was in a hurry. When the tailcoat was changed to a frock coat, the sheath and the blade of the sword were hidden inside the coat. There he must have felt it all the time, perhaps recalling the words of St Paul, which connected the sword to earthly power and authority: ‘he does not bear the sword in vain’ (Romans 13).[58] When Lönnrot sat down, the backside buttons of the coat probably clinked loudly on the chair and ensured that he could not recline comfortably in his chair. The uniform guided him – as a representative of imperial power and the emperor’s subject – to hold himself with dignity and decorum. In the backside pockets he could keep gloves or handkerchiefs, but not much else. Either a doctoral hat or a bicorne hat crowned his head. The latter had a cockade, that is, a round textile mark with three colours (black, orange and silver) symbolising the Russian coat of arms: a black double-headed eagle on a golden shield and on the eagle’s chest, St George, the silver horseman of Moscow. Lönnrot was completely subjected to imperial power.[59]

It is often said that ceremonies are important for the manifestation of political power, and civil uniforms were, of course, an important part of the pageantry of ceremonies.[60] However, uniforms had one advantage as political instruments: ceremonies had to be reproduced time and again, whereas civil uniforms and other artefacts are fairly permanent and durable.[61] That helped to maintain the system of imperial power. The emperor was far away, but his power was constantly present in uniforms (as agency) and represented by uniforms (as symbolism). Although Lönnrot had been able to avoid them in Kajaani, in his professorial role in Helsinki the uniforms had a hold on him. The emperor burdened his shoulders. Like many other Finns in important positions, so too the creator of the Kalevala was attired in the clothes of imperial power.

FIGURE 10. The backside of the coat. National Museum of Finland, KM H31025:6. Photo: Alex Snellman.



We have demonstrated how profoundly Elias Lönnrot’s professorial uniform was based on Russian models. It did not follow the Swedish tradition but reflected imperial practice. The first scholar of the field, Ole Gripenberg, was aware of Russian influences of course, but he could not pinpoint them accurately, because during the Soviet period there were few publications that examined the civil uniforms of the empire. It is only thanks to the groundbreaking work of Leonid Shepelëv that we can now make the connection between the neighbouring uniform systems of the Russian Empire and its Grand Duchy of Finland. Although the Russian models are clear, the separate administration and autonomy of the Grand Duchy are also evident. In Russia, the palm branch pattern was adopted in 1810, but in Finland that occurred 29 years later. In Russia, the great unification of the uniform system was carried out in 1834, whereas the Finnish reform took place only in 1839. However, when the tailcoats were changed to frock coats in 1855, the reforms were practically simultaneous in both regions.

We have discussed the construction and exact materials of Lönnrot’s uniform. The material evidence seems to support the hypothesis that the second-hand tailcoat bought from Professor Geitlin did not form the basis for Lönnrot’s frock coat; instead, a new frock coat was made for him in 1855. Theoretically, it would have been possible to modify a frock coat from a tailcoat by adding extra fabric to the front side of the hem. In this case, it was not possible: the pockets are different, and the side seam points towards the front instead of the possible tails in the back. In the tailcoat model, the back pockets were horizontal flap-pockets instead of the vertical glove-pockets of the frock coat (figure 10). This means that everything in the coat below the waist would have been replaced.

In addition, at least by visual analysis, there is no difference in the blue hue of the top and the bottom part of the coat. The woollen fibre sample from the hem is in much worse condition compared to the one from the front, but if this would be the only evidence, the sample should demonstrate the opposite. There would be new material in the hem. There are no signs of alterations of any kind in the coat. No unpicked seams or stiches were found. If it were Professor Geitlin’s coat, it would be natural that some alterations for a better fit would be visible, perhaps tailored after the unfavourable first impression that Lönnrot made at the beginning of his professorial career. Textiles were precious, especially textiles of this sort. Still, the frock coat reform of 1855 probably gave Lönnrot a good reason to order a new, better-fitting coat – only the embroideries and buttons were preserved, as there was no reason to change them.

Several different fibre materials were found in the coat: wool, cotton, flax and silk. As – to our knowledge – this is the first such examination of a uniform coat from this period in Finland, we cannot compare the data to other cases. Instead, this case will provide a baseline for further study. However, the material choices were logical and practical, maybe also economical. Wool was an excellent material for ensuring warmth and, via fulling, a way of ensuring the durability of the fabric. Moreover, it was possible to dye wool in any colour with natural dyes – presumably the blue broadcloth and the velvet were dyed with indigo pigment, which was a common source for blue at that time. Silk was used in sewing threads and embroidery, partly because of the shiny outlook and dyeing properties, but more likely because of the excellent durability of the filament fibre material. Cotton in general has good clothing properties, while cotton-satin, as a slippery fabric type, presumably made the tightly sitting coat more comfortable to wear and to dress in. Flax was used in the supporting ribbon, where durability was needed without any risk of stretching.

Professorial uniforms are special clothing with strict regulations in terms of materials as well as structure. Certain details in Lönnrot’s coat indicate reuse or a comprehensive use of materials. The lining in sleeves consisted of several fabric types, not by using fabric pieces symmetrically but in different widths. Here, the economical use of materials was possible because they were out of sight. We can assume that the coat was used for several years, because at the hem we can see some longitudinal wear marks at the fibre level. This is logical because the hem is the area that is the most vulnerable part of a garment for all everyday activity. One wonders why there appears to be mould growth on the wool fibres of the hem. Does the mould perhaps indicate incorrect storage conditions? This could be in alignment with the observation that the original dark blue colour of the velvet has changed its shade to that of a brownish-black colour.

We have shown how Lönnrot’s uniform acted in a material system of imperial power. It symbolised that power explicitly with its double-headed eagles and sparkling sequins of imperial grandeur. Those familiar with Russian circumstances might have recognised the model of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment. Those who could read the language of the arts might have wondered if its palm branches were purely decorative or meant to present the professors as scholarly victorious or allude to Apollo, the god of the arts. As a uniform, it symbolised the hierarchical, bureaucratic and militarised state. In addition, it also acted. It guided and disciplined Lönnrot. It held him in the embrace of imperial power. Unlike ceremonies, it was durable. Imperial power was constantly present in the uniform. Elias Lönnrot felt the weight on his shoulders, the tightness in his waist, the dangling imperial decorations. For a man like him, it must have been a relief when he could strip off that intrusive power and be free.



Sources and Literature


Primary Sources

Code of statutes of the Grand Duchy of Finland

Partly available (Samling af Placater, Förordningar, Manifester och Påbud, samt andre Allmänna Handlingar 1808–1859) online:

Finnish Literature Society (SKS), Helsinki

Collection Lönnrotiana (a catalogue of the collection see Anttila 1985: chapter 59)

The digitized correspondence of Elias Lönnrot. Available:

The minutes of the board
The minutes of the society (published in series Keskustelemukset)

National Archives of Finland (KA), Helsinki


The illustrations of the 1839 regulations (Ritningar till snitten för civila uniformer och uniforms frackar)

National Museum of Finland (KM), Helsinki

Collections database Musketti

Main catalogue

Receipts [verifikaatit]

Uniform card index



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Ars Universitaria 1640–1990: muotokuvia Helsingin yliopiston kokoelmista 1990. Helsinki: Helsingin yliopisto.

Autio, Veli-Matti 2004: Helsingin yliopiston opettaja- ja virkamiesmatrikkeli 1640–1917. Helsinki: Helsingin yliopiston. Available:

Bergroth, Tom C. 2005: ‘Dress Regulations and Reality: A Portrait and a Uniform of 1810’. On Men: Masculine Dress Code from the Ancient Greeks to Cowboys. ICOM Costume Committee.

Bergroth, Tom C. 2010: ‘Siviilivirkamiesten miekat Suomessa 1809–1917’. Miekka Suomessa. Turku: Turun museokeskus.

Bourhis, Katell le & Zieseniss, Charles Otto 1989: The age of Napoleon: costume from revolution to empire 1789–1815. New York.

Cardon, Dominique 2007: Natural Dyes: Sources, Tradition, Technology and Science. London: Archetype Publications.

Coole, Diana & Frost, Samantha eds. 2010: New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency and Politics. Durham.

Craik, Jennifer 2005: Uniforms Exposed: From Conformity to Transgression. Oxford: Berg.

Cunnington, C. Willett & Cunnington, Phillis 1966/1970: Handbook of English Costume in the Nineteenth Century. 2nd ed./3rd ed. London: Faber and Faber.

Forssell, Hanna 2018: Email message from the National Museum of Finland, 25 May 2018.

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Gripenberg, Ole 1975: ‘Siviilivirkamiekkamme’. Suomen Museo 1975.

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Hicks, Dan & Beaudry, Mary C. eds. 2010: The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies. Oxford.

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Kopisto, Sirkka 1991: Muodin vuosikymmenet 1810–1910. (Dress and Fashion 1810–1910). Captions and summary in English. Helsinki: Museovirasto.

Kopytoff, Igor 1986: ‘The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process’. The social life of things: Commodities in cultural perspective. Ed. Arjun Appadurai. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kotilainen, Eija-Maija 1992: “When the bones are left”: A Study of the Material Culture of Central Sulawesi. Helsinki: The Finnish Anthropological Society.

Larsson, Marianne 2008: Uniformella förhandlingar: hierarkier och genusrelationer i Postens kläder 1636–2008. Stockholm: Nordiska museets förlag.

Latour, Bruno 2005: Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford.

Lehtinen, Ildikó & Sihvo, Pirkko 2005: Rahwaan puku. (Folk Costume). Captions and summary in English. Helsinki: Museovirasto.

Lönnqvist, Bo 2008: Vaatteiden valtapeli. Helsinki: Schildt.

Mansel, Philip 1982: ‘Monarchy, uniform and the rise of the frac, 1760–1830’. Past and Present 96.

Miller, Daniel 2010: Stuff. Cambridge.

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Olsen, Bjørnar 2010: In defense of things: archaeology and the ontology of objects. Lanham.

Rast-Eicher, Antoinette 2016: Fibers – Microscopy of Archaeological Textiles and Furs. Archaeololingua.

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Snellman, Alex 2017: ‘Esinekeskeisyys ja toimijuus vakiintumassa’. Historiallinen Aikakauskirja 3/2017.

Suomela, Jenni A. & Vajanto, Krista & Räisänen, Riikka 2017: ‘Seeking Nettle Textiles – Utilizing a Combination of Microscopic Methods for Fibre Identification’. Studies in Conservation, volume 63, 2018 - Issue 7. DOI: 10.1080/00393630.2017.1410956

Шепелёв, Леонид 2001: Чиновный мир России XVIII - начала XX в. Санкт-Петербург.

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[1] Anttila 1985: 389 and passim; Autio 2004.

[2] Anttila 1985: 389 and passim; for biographical information on all professors, see Autio 2004.

[3] Gripenberg 1969: 28, 83–84.

[4] We examined the uniform at the Collections Centre on 8 February and 10 April 2018.

[5] The relevant material (collections database Musketti, main catalogue, receipts and uniform card index) that is connected to the uniform has been studied at the National Museum. As the available information there is very superficial, this article is mainly based on the examination of the coat and other sources.

[6] Gripenberg 1969. The book also includes the most important civil uniform regulations. For others, see the Code of statutes of the Grand Duchy of Finland (in Finnish, Asetuskokoelma). See also his essential article on the system of civil uniform embroideries (which does not include the professorial embroidery of 1817, however): Gripenberg 1969b. He has also published an article on civil uniform swords, Gripenberg 1975. For an example, in English, of a Finnish civil uniform, see Bergroth 2005. He has also published an article on civil uniform swords in Finnish: Bergroth 2010. For a recent Finnish monograph on the power of clothing, see Lönnqvist 2008. For a recent Swedish doctoral thesis in ethnology on postal civil uniforms, see Larsson 2008.

[7] The transliteration of the name in the text is in Oxford style, whereas bibliographic information is given in the original spelling: Шепелёв 2001; Шепелёв 2003; Шепелёв 2005. In German, see Šepelev 2006. On Russian civil uniforms, see also Russian Splendor 2016; Amelekhina & Levykin 2009.

[8] The most important part of the archives is the extensive Collection Lönnrotiana (SKS), which includes all possible material that is connected to Elias Lönnrot and his family. Part of his letters have already been digitised (it is currently an ongoing process). Anttila 1985.

[9] See, e.g. Latour 2005.

[10] Snellman 2017. The books he mentioned: Miller 2010; Coole & Frost eds. 2010; Olsen 2010; Hicks & Beaudry eds. 2010.

[11] Mansel 1982: 107–108 (citation) and passim. See also Nach Rang 2002; Bourhis & Zieseniss 1989; Gripenberg 1969; Шепелёв 2005.

[12] Шепелёв 2005: 204–243.

[13] Gripenberg 1969: 42–46; Klinge 1989: 47, 71, 110, 119.

[14] Gripenberg 1969: 42–45, 79; Klinge 1989: 47, 71, 110, 119; Шепелёв 2005: 204–243. Interestingly, Gripenberg himself mentioned the dark blue colour of the Russian educational administration on one page (Gripenberg 1969: 43), but he interpreted the colour as a Swedish-Finnish tradition on another page (Gripenberg 1969: 45).

[15] Gripenberg 1969: 42–45, 79; Klinge 1989: 47, 71, 110, 119, 243; Шепелёв 2005: 204–243; Hall 2008 & Tresidder ed. 2004: ‘laurel’, ‘olive’.

[16] The transliteration of the name in the text is in Oxford style, whereas bibliographic information is given in the original spelling: Шепелёв 2001; Шепелёв 2003; Шепелёв 2005; Šepelev 2006.

[17] Gripenberg 1969: 28, 42–46, 78, 80–84. See the illustrations for the 1839 regulations (Ritningar till snitten för civila uniformer och uniforms frackar), which are available at the library of the National Archives of Finland and at the Picture Collections of the National Board of Antiquities. Шепелёв 2005: 235, 241, 247–249.

[18] For more on his career, see Autio 2004.

[19] Anttila 1985; Autio 2004; Gripenberg 1969: 27 and passim. For more on the attire of professors, see, e.g. Galleria Academica 1961; Klinge 1989; Ars Universitaria 1990.

[20] Gripenberg 1969: 83–84; Cunnigton & Cunnigton 1970: 197.

[21] Шепелёв 2005: 263–265.

[22] Anttila 1985: 154–157, 389 (citation).

[23] Elias Lönnrot’s letter to Carl Robert Ehrström, December 1852. The digitized correspondence of Elias Lönnrot. Available:

[24] Elias Lönnrot’s letter to Mathias Alexander Castrén, 14 April 1850. The digitized correspondence of Elias Lönnrot. Available:

[25] Anttila 1985: 154–157.

[26] There might be some evidence of this in the Collection Lönnrotiana (SKS) because it is quite extensive, but for the purposes of this article a thorough search was not possible. Additionally, his correspondence is in the process of being digitised and not yet completely in digital format.

[27] Anttila 1985: 384–385, 403, 493–580; Autio 2004.

[28] Anttila 1985: 569–571; Collection Lönnrotiana 270 (SKS).

[29] Collection Lönnrotiana 270 (SKS).

[30] Anttila 1985: 571; Collection Lönnrotiana 272 (SKS).

[31] Anttila 1985: 566–580 and chapter 48; Collection Lönnrotiana 420 (SKS). See also the blog post ’Eliaksen lapset’. Available:

[32] Collection Lönnrotiana 420 (SKS).

[33] The minutes of the board, 26 March 1931, the corresponding minutes of the society and Collection Lönnrotiana 376 (SKS).

[34] The minutes of the board, 26 March 1931, the corresponding minutes of the society and Collection Lönnrotiana 376 (SKS).

[35] Receipts, main catalogue and collections database Musketti (KM); Collection Lönnrotiana 376, 419, 420 (SKS).

[36] Email message from Hanna Forssell, National Museum of Finland, 25 May 2018.

[37] Cunnington & Cunnington 1966: 36.

[38] However, this feature is not unique. Similar triangular parts can be found in a uniform frock coat (KM H48023) that has probably belonged to the survey administration.

[39] Rast-Eicher 2016.

[40] Suomela & Vajanto & Räisänen 2017.

[41] Cardon 2007.

[42] For a critique of this perspective, see Miller 2010; Olsen 2010; Hicks & Beaudry eds. 2010.

[43] Gripenberg (1969: 45) interpreted the colour as a Swedish-Finnish tradition.

[44] Hall 2008 & Tresidder ed. 2004: ‘palm’, ‘laurel’, ‘Apollo’.

[45] Klinge 1989: 233–234, 242.

[46] Шепелёв 2005: 237–241.

[47] Hall 2008 & Tresidder ed. 2004: ‘oak’; and in the Finnish and German military tradition.

[48] For more on the general works on nineteenth-century European fashion in Finland, see Kopisto 1991; on traditional peasant clothing or folk costumes, see Lehtinen & Sihvo 2005.

[49] Gripenberg 1969: 69; Gripenberg 1969b.

[50] Olsen 2010: 50.

[51] Alex Snellman has proposed (in Historiallinen Aikakauskirja 3/2017) that the year of the agential turn described here would be 2010, when several important books emphasised the agency of artefacts: Miller 2010; Coole & Frost eds. 2010; Olsen 2010; Hicks & Beaudry eds. 2010.

[52] See, e.g. Latour 2005.

[53] See, e.g. Miller 2010; Coole & Frost eds. 2010; Olsen 2010; Hicks & Beaudry eds. 2010.

[54] For a seminal article on object biographies, see Kopytoff 1986.

[55] See also Nach Rang 2002: 36–37. The information on the film is from Wikipedia.

[56] Anttila 1985: 154.

[57] For more on uniforms as body techniques, see, e.g. Nach Rang 2002; Craik 2005. On corsets and calf paddings, see e.g. Nach Rang 2002 and Gripenberg 1969: 25 and passim. For the parts of the uniform ensemble, see Gripenberg 1969: 80–85 and passim. For more on Lönnrot’s appearance, see Anttila 1985: 154–157.

[58] Lönnrot’s sword and decorations are also in the collections of the National Museum, but they were not examined for the purposes of this article. On swords, see Gripenberg 1975; Bergroth 2010. On decorations, see Talvio 2000.

[59] For more on uniforms as body techniques, see, e.g. Nach Rang 2002; Craik 2005. For the parts of the uniform ensemble, see Gripenberg 1969: 80–85 and passim.

[60] The imperial ceremonies of the Russian Empire are thoroughly explored by Wortman (1995 & 2000).

[61] See, e.g. Kotilainen 1992: 234–235.



Dr Alex Snellman is a historian and a postdoctoral researcher for the Emil Aaltonen Foundation at the Department of Philosophy, History and Art Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki.

Dr Krista Vajanto is an archaeologist from the University of Helsinki. Currently, she is a postdoctoral researcher at the Nanomicroscopy Centre of Aalto University.

MA Jenni Suomela is a doctoral student in craft studies at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki.

The peer review process was organised and the decision to publish this article made by the journal’s temporary editor, Dr Ritva Koskennurmi-Sivonen. Both were conducted independently of the permanent editor of the series, Alex Snellman.

We would like to thank for assistance and advice Kristiina Karinko as well as other members of the staff of the National Museum of Finland/National Board of Antiquities and the Finnish Literature Society.

Helsinki • Artefacta • 1 October 2018

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