WHAT IS TUHTO?
T U H T O is the Finnish name of Toft, the small whomper that appears in Tove Jansson’s book Moominvalley in November. Toft lives deep in the prow of the Hemulen’s rowboat and he loves the smell of tar, the unceasing patter of raindrops, and the firm grasp of the coil of rope in which he curls up to sleep. Timid by nature, he is more a keen observer than a socializer. Moominvalley in November was Tove Jansson’s last Moomin novel, and it is the only book in the series in which the Moomin family are absent. It tells the story of how Toft, Grandpa Grumble, Fillyjonk, a Hemulen and Mymble arrived in Moominvalley to visit the Moomins, only to find their house is empty. One by one they take up temporary residence in the deserted Moominhouse, which is filled with a wistful sense of longing. The book’s key message is that life cannot be lived by the rules of others – each of us must learn to embrace our unique self. At the very end of the story, the Moomin family returns home by boat, and the first to spot them on the horizon is none other than Toft.
TUHTO is the Finnish word for ‘thwart’ (the strut that serves as a seat for the rower in a rowboat).
Moomin Museum, Tampere Art Museum Moominvalley Collection. © Moomin Characters