Home / News / The Sámi Sled - An exhibition on the history, use and making of the Sámi sled

The Sámi Sled - An exhibition on the history, use and making of the Sámi sled

Oct 25, 2012 06:25 PM

A new temporary exhibition produced by the Sámi Museum tells about the sled pulled by reindeer: about the history and the various types of sleds and how they are made. It also tells about the numerous phases of sled making and presents the vocabulary dealing with the sled and the tools needed for crafting one.

The Sámi Sled - An exhibition on the history, use and making of the Sámi sled

Reindeer herders at Sallivaara in the 1960's. Photo: Marja Vuorelainen, Johtti Sápmelaččat rs / The Provincial Museum of Lapland

In past illustrations, the most common image of the Sámi contained a sled and a reindeer. Indeed, the sled can be considered as one of the characteristics of Sámi culture. In addition to the Sámi, state officials and clergymen, and later medical doctors, chief policemen and nurses, too, travelled in sleds in the Sámi area.

Until the 1900s, almost all transport of both people and goods in Sápmi, the Land of the Sámi, was carried out by means of individual sleds and caravans of sleds. The most common sled types were the driving sled and the sleds used for transporting goods, that is, the goods or caravan sled and the lockable sled that had a lid.

In the past, the sled was used all over the Sámi region. With a change in the ways of moving after World War II, the use of the sled declined. In Western Lapland, sleighs were used as early as the 1800s, and, by the 1900s, they were already more common than sleds. In Inari and Utsjoki, reindeer herders went on using sleds until the mid-1960s and the introduction of the snowmobile. After this, the sleds were forsaken and left under storehouses.

In the Sámi community, sled makers have always been highly appreciated professional specialists. Earlier, all the men of the Sámi community had some kind of command of crafting practical everyday objects, but the more skilful ones did woodwork to order, too. Of all craftwork, making a boat or a sled was considered the hardest kind. You needed to master a range of skills from being able to find the right kind of material to having a solid sense of form and beauty. The result of crafting had to be functional and durable – as well as aesthetic.

The central role of the sled in Sámi culture is also reflected in the abundant traditional knowledge on it. At the exhibition, the audience will, among other things, learn about how people were buried in sleds; they can also listen to traditional music that describes driving with a sled and become acquainted with the rich vocabulary on using one.

The information content of the exhibition has been collected and created by Collections Curator Áile Aikio and Archaeologist Eija Ojanlatva. The exhibition is based on an artefact study of the Sámi Museum.

Geres – The Sámi Sled exhibition is open for the public from 26 October 2012 to 3 February 2013.

Further Information:
Head Curator Arja Jomppanen, tel. +358 (0)40 579 3313,  arja.jomppanen(at)samimuseum.fi, and Collections Curator Áile Aikio, Sámi Museum Siida, tel. +358 (0)400 891 860,  aile.aikio(at)samimuseum.fi

Sámi museum, Siida, Inarintie 46, FI-99870 Inari, tel. +358 (0)400 898 212, siida@samimuseum.fi, www.siida.fi

Document Actions



Sámi Museum
Phone +358 (0)400 898 212

Nature Centre, Metsähallitus
Phone +358 (0)206 39 7740