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Monday, April 18, 2005

Toell the Great

Toell the Great or Suur Tõll, in Estonian mythology is a great giant hero living in Baltic Sea island Oesel (Saaremaa).
He lived in Tõlluste village with his wife Piret. He tossed huge rocks everywhere, mostly aiming his archenemy Vanatühi or other enemies of Oeselians. Toell was king of Oesel but he lived as common farmer and made all farm works himself. He often visited his brother Leiger in neighboring Dagö island. He was so tall that he could almost walk there. His walking stick was 5 sazhens (35 feet) spruce tree trunk. Toell was always kind and ready to help, but very hot tempered. He loved to eat cabbages, drink beer and go to sauna (his wife was busy gathering him sauna stove rocks).
When enemy decapitated him, he put his head on his sword and walked to his grave, which is supposed to be somewhere in Tõlluste. When Toell died, he promised to rise from grave and help people in case of war. But naughty children made fun of him yelling "Toell, Toell, wake up, there is a war in the yard". Toell rose, grew angry and went back to his grave, swearing never to come back.
In Ninase village there are two old windmills reshaped into the figures or Toell and Piret. Oeselian newlyweds go there to pay tribute to the mythical heroes of their island.
It is supposed that stories about Toell the Great are based on historical very tall elder of Oeselians. Sometimes he is connected with local German (or Germanized) noble family Toll. Some members of that family are told to have been very tall (more than 2.10 meters).
Toell the Great has inspired several and cartoon movie "Suur Tõll" (Tallinfilm 1980). "Suur Tõll" is also the name of the biggest preserved steam icebreaker in the world, built in Stettin in 1914.
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