Juoksa – The Sámi Bow
Already the ancient Romans knew about the Phinnoi, the people that hunted with arrowheads made from bone. The Scandinavian historical sources from the Middle Ages praise the archery skills of the Sámi as well as their strong bows which a Norwegian “could not string”. The North Sámi called this bow juoksa. A boy turned into a man when he was able to string the bow. At that point, he also had to start paying taxes. Organiser: Sámi Museum
The exhibition Juoksa – The Sámi Bow will open for the public in Siida on Friday, October 8. In it, the visitor can get acquainted with the history and the making of the old Sámi bow. In 2009, the Sámi Education Institute SAKK in Inari arranged a five-credit course in making the ancient bow. The bows that were made during the first course and the stories on how they were made now constitute this special exhibition. At the moment, a second course is being held, and more courses will be arranged as vocational further education if there is a demand for them at the local level.
The bows made in the course were modelled on laminated bows of the North-Euroasian type. The bow used by the Sámi was also such a bow. Laminated bows of this kind have been used in the northern boreal region, which extends from Scandinavia to Eastern Siberia. Two archaeological finds of such bows have been made in Finland: in Paltamo and Viitasaari. Similar finds have been made in Sweden, Norway and Russia. The Nordic bow finds have been dated at 1100s – 1400s, or the Viking Era/Middle Ages. In Finland, this type of bow was used at least until the 1700s, after which it was gradually replaced first by the crossbow and later by firearms. Örbyhus Castle in Sweden has the only Sámi bow that has survived complete. It dates back to the 1700s. The bow has also been used as a ski pole.
A laminated bow was traditionally made by glueing together two or several pieces of wood with different characteristics. Thus, the belly and the back of the bow were made from different types of wood. These parts were glued together with glue that was made from the skin of perch, for example. The belly of the bow was made from the reaction wood of conifers. The back was usually made from birch. The recurves were made from either birch or European bird cherry.
The exhibition Juoksa – The Sámi Bow is a result of the work done by Sami Laiti, a student of Sámi craft, the archaeologist Juha-Pekka Joona, and the other students and leaders of the bow-making course. They have together planned and composed the exhibition and yielded its content. The exhibition has been produced jointly by the Sámi Education Institute and the Sámi Museum.
Juoksa – the Sámi Bow is open for the public in Siida from 8 October 2010 to 30 January 2011. Siida is open in winter (20 September – 31 May) from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sami Laiti, tel. +358 (0)44 2600 942, samiaslak(at)gmail.com
Arja Hartikainen, Head Curator, Sámi Museum Siida, tel. +358 (0)40 579 3313, arja.hartikainen(at)samimuseum.fi