Sami bag/pouch from the Lule Sami region, Sweden. Made of tanned reindeer leather and strips of woollen cloth. Cords made of leather, decorated with glass beads and tassels made from pieces of woollen cloth.
Title: Sami bag/pouch
Date Created: 1868
Location Created: Luleå, Lapland, Sweden
Physical Dimensions: w5 x h10 cm
More Information: "Sami bags of this type were intended to be used for storing spoons, coins or tobacco. The bag was worn on the belt and was part of a belt sheath containing a knife, a container for matches, a cup (drinking scoop) and sewing tools. Men often also carried a powder horn. Leather and textile handicrafts were traditionally a female occupation. The bags were initially made for the Samis' own use but by the nineteenth century they had already become popular tourist souvenirs.
This bag was purchased by Gustaf von Düben during a trip to Lapland in 1868. Von Düben sold it to Nordiska museet in 1873, along with a large number of Sami objects collected during his 1868 trip.
The Sami are an indigenous people, originally from the northern parts of present-day Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. They lived in these areas long before these modern states existed. The Sami supported themselves through hunting, trapping, fishing and reindeer herding. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, tourism, handicrafts, art and music became new sources of income. Today, Samis reside in many places and can be found in most professions. There are a total of at least 80,000 Samis, with at least 20,000 resident in Sweden. Approximately 2,500 Swedish Samis still make a living from reindeer herding. Other important industries are handicrafts, hunting, fishing and tourism. There are three different Sami languages, which in turn can be divided into a number of dialects. All three Sami languages are included on the UN's list of endangered languages. Since 2000, Sami has had minority language status in Sweden.
Sami handicrafts (in Sami duodji) have their origins in the period when the Sami lived a nomadic life. Such an existence frequently involved breaking camp and moving around, meaning it was useful to have tools that were easy to carry around. They made most of the things they needed. The material was mainly taken from the surrounding environment, such as bone, antlers, hide, sinew, wood and roots. But sometimes they also bought textiles, yarn, tin and glass beads. Today's Sami handicrafts draw on tradition, but are also constantly changing, and modern materials such as plastic and plexiglas are now also used.
Nordiska museet has a large collection of Sami objects. The first was collected during the museum's first year in the 1870s and the most recent in 2010.
Materials and Techniques: Tanned reindeer leather, woollen cloth and glass beads.