She is a barefoot young woman in her mid-twenties with often braided blonde hair, blue eyes, wearing a blue and white national costume or a white dress. She was originally called Aura after the Aura River in Turku.
As a symbol, the Finnish Maiden has been used since the 19th century when she was pictured as a woman wearing a turreted crown, and then developing as Finland gained a national consciousness and independence. She was depicted in poetry and fine arts. Zachris Topelius and Walter Runeberg were important in establishing Finnish Maiden as a symbol. Like the Mother Svea of neighbouring Sweden, Finnish maiden was first an adult woman but gradually become younger.
In the painting Attack by Edvard Isto, the Finnish Maiden is being attacked by the Russian eagle, which is tearing away the law book from her hands. It was painted when the Russification of Finland started in 1899.
The Maiden of Finland can also refer to the shape of Finland on the map. With a little imagination it looks like a female form which has one hand raised (and another before the Moscow Armistice of 1944), a head, and a skirt. The metaphor is so commonly used that the northwestern area around Enontekiö is known as the Arm (Käsivarsi) even in official contexts. Compare the dress in the painting above with the map on the right.