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The Woman of the Mountains

The "Lady of the Mountain" (Fjallkonan) is the female incarnation (national personification) of Iceland. While she symbolised what Icelanders considered to be genuine and purely Icelandic, in her purity she reflected a deep-seated, but unattainable, wish of Icelanders to be a totally independent nation. Fjallkonan is thus not only a national symbol, she also represents the national vision, the nation's ultimate dream. She was first depicted in the poem Ofsjónir by Eggert Ólafsson (1752) but her name was mentioned for the first time in the poem Eldgamla Ísafold by Bjarni Thorarensen. From that moment onwards she became a well-known symbol in Icelandic poetry. The oldest image of "the woman of the mountains" was published in an English translation of Icelandic folk-tales, Icelandic legends, (1864-1866). It is the work of the German painter J. B. Zwecker, who drew it to specifications provided by Eiríkur Magnússon, one of the translators. Eiríkur described the picture in a letter to Jón Sigurðsson (11 April 1866). Also very popular is the image designed by Benedikt Gröndal on a memorial card of the National holiday in 1874. Her typical dress of was first presented in Winnipeg, Canada in 1924. Since the establishment of the Icelandic republic in 1944 the reading of a poem by "The Lady of the Mountain" on the national holiday (17 June) has been a tradition.

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