The Rock painting at Verla is the largest of its kind in the Kymi Valley and ranks among the most notable Finnish examples of the rock art.

Verla is a very illustrative specimen of a genuinely Finnish variant of rock art, rock paintings, made on vertical cliff faces close to the water’s edge. Red ochre does not fade when exposed to the sun which explains why the rock paintings have survived to the present time. They are also protected by a film of silicone dioxide dissolved from the rock.

Most of Finnish rock paintings date from the Comb Ceramic culture - ca 4200 – 2000 B.C. - our richest Stone Age period. Their recurrent motives of moose and man connect them with a way of living that of a hunting culture, but their spiritual setting is undoubtedly much more extensive than the mere hunter-game relationship suggests. The rock paintings illustrate the shamanistic religious system which for long dominated in the northern coniferous region. Expectations, hopes and belief related to hunting magic, totemism, cosmology and fertility cult are expressed through the animals pictured. The artists might well have been shamans who, among other things, were traditional guarantors of their tribes hunting luck.

The rock painting at Verla has overall length of some six meters and a height of about 1.6 meters. One can make out the outline of 8 moose, 3 human beings  and an angular figure as well as some figures damaged beyond recognition. The naturalistic animals pictured in an unusually expressive style deviate from the usual clumsy stereotypes and can be said to be the chief characteristic of the Verla rock painting. Animals pictured in the older paintings tend to be more naturalistic than those from a later period. The Verla painting may, therefore, well belong to the oldest period of our rock art. The human figure to the right is also among the most individualistic likenesses preserved. It represents a specific Finnish ring-headed type. The tall human figure standing between two moose is equally unique. His arms and legs are represented by curved lines. The man wearing antlers on his head and standing on the “back” of a moose represents a typical shaman. The angular figure between the man and moose may be a snake, a typical shamanistic symbol.

Timo Miettinen