Väinämöinen is a hero and a poem singer with powerful magical powers, and he is known as a great and eternal tietäjä. Sometimes Väinämöinen has godlike features in stories. He is greatly respected in Finnish tradition, and is the main character of various poems and stories from all across the country, from west to east. The oldest written mentions of Väinämöinen come from 1551 from Tavastia (Häme) in which he is referred to as "the smith of songs". Väinämöinen plays a kantele.
The name "Väinämöinen" originates from the Finnish word väinä, meaning a wide or deep part in a river, or a stream pool.