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Moomintrolls

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Trollvinter11

An old family picture of Moomintrolls from Moominland Midwinter.

Moomintrolls (Swedish: Mumintroll) are a fictional species of trolls created by Tove Jansson. They are depicted as joyful and carefree, with round shape, white fur and a big snout. The most well-known Moomintrolls are Moomintroll and his parents Moominmamma and Moominpappa, and for the most part these are the only Moomintrolls appearing in the various books, comics and adaptions, except for a few minor exceptions. While their appearances are very similar, Moomintrolls and Snorks are two different species. The difference being that Snorks change color according to their mood. They should also not be confused with Hemulens, who has similar but longer snouts, larger bodies and no pointy ears.

Background

The figure of the Moomintroll appeared first in Jansson's political cartoons, where it was used as a signature character near the artist's name. This "Proto-Moomin," then called Snork or Niisku, was thin and ugly, with a long, narrow nose and devilish tail. Jansson said that she had designed the Moomins in her youth: after she lost a philosophical quarrel about Immanuel Kant with one of her brothers, she drew "the ugliest creature imaginable" on the wall of their WC and wrote under it "Kant". This Moomin later gained weight and a more pleasant appearance, but in the first Moomin book The Moomins and the Great Flood (originally Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen), the Immanuel-Kant-Moomin is still perceptible. The name "Moomin" comes from Tove Jansson's uncle, Einar Hammarsten: when she was studying in Stockholm and living with her Swedish relations, her uncle tried to stop her pilfering food by telling her that a "Moomintroll" lived in the kitchen closet and breathed cold air down people's necks.

Småtrollen3

Moomintrolls around a stove as depicted in The Moomins and the Great Flood.

History

The origins of the Moomintrolls is up for debate, as Tove Jansson gave two conflicting backstories in her books. In The Moomins and the Great Flood, Moominmamma tells of how Moomintrolls used to live with the housetrolls inside and behind stoves in human houses, but that they've since been driven out as people started using central heating. It is told how Moominmamma and Moominpappa used to live in stoves, and that Moominpappa was constantly on the move. Here they are portrayed as being very tiny creatures, which seems to have been retconned already in the very next book, and even creates some contradictions within the very book this backstory is told. The story of Moominpappa's life as told in The Exploits of Moominpappa also contradicts this backstory, although the book in a very confusing manner stills mentions having stove doors on moominhouses as a remnant of the time when all moomins lived behind stoves.

In Moominland Midwinter, Moomintroll encounters The Ancestor, an old apelike troll which is believed to be the ancestor of the Moomintrolls. Too-Ticky explains that's what Moomintrolls looked like a thousand years ago, before evolution turned them into their current shape. The Ancestor takes residence in the Moomin's stove, which Moomintroll sees as a sign of their relation, as Moominmamma had always said their ancestors lived behind stoves. This origin is similar to the one described in The Moomins and the Great Flood, yet contradicts it by having the ancient trolls live in stoves instead of Moomintrolls. It's likely this was a retcon on Tove's part to provide a better and more relevant backstory for the Moomintrolls, as the apelike appearance of the Ancestor can be compared to humans and their connection to apes.

Moomintrolls hibernate every winter from November to April, and do so today to keep the tradition of their ancestors. Before hibernation they fill their stomaches with pine. While they are genetically capable of hibernation, the Moomintrolls are still adaptable to winter climates. In Moominland Midwinter, Moomintroll wakes up early from his hibernation and experiences the rest of the winter from January to April. It is also described that his fur slowly grows thicker as soon as he encounters snow.

The Moomintrolls background of living in stoves is the reason why the Moominhouse has its tall cylinder shape.

Other Moomintrolls

While the Moomin family are the only prominent Moomintrolls in the various books, comics and adaptions of the former, there have been brief appearances and mentions of other Moomintrolls througout the works.

  • In The Moomins and the Great Flood, several Moomintrolls can be seen in Moominmamma's story of their origins.
  • In The Exploits of Moominpappa, Moominpappa grows up at an orphanage for Moomintrolls, though none of the other children are shown in the books illustrations. In the Tanoshii Mūmin Ikka anime series, this is changed to an ordinary orphanage, with Moominpappa being the only Moomintroll living there.
  • In the Moomin comic strips, there are more direct appearances of other Moomintrolls, the most well-known being Wimsy.
  • In Moominland Midwinter, an old family picture of Moomintrolls is shown dated "Helsinki 1878 3.10.". These are likely old relatives of Moominmamma as Moominpappa's origins are unknown and Moominmamma is the one who has shown affinity for the family albums prior.
  • In Who Will Comfort Toffle?, silhouettes resembling Moomintrolls can be seen in the background of the party scene.
  • In The Dangerous Journey, Wimsy makes a brief appearance.

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