HUMA2120-001: spring term – M,W 7-8:15pm
Sacred Drums of the Sami
Deep in the northern areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and western Russia reside the indigenous Sami people. The story of the Sami culture is similar to the story of other indigenous populations who came into contact with colonial Christianity – not very pleasant. The shamanic drums or runebomme of the Sami are evidence of a tradition and time that has all but become lost due to religious persecution. Today there are only 71 remaining Sami drums located in various European museums. We know of 2 types of drum styles the ‘framed’ and ‘bowl type’. The ‘bowl type’ is believed to have been an evolution from the ‘framed’ drum and was more widespread in use when the Christians began to convert the Sami in the 17th century. In my discussion I’m going to focus on a specific ‘bowl type’ drum on display in Finnmark, Norway that belonged to Anders Paulsen, a 100 year old Sami that was confiscated by Christians as Pagan propaganda in 1691 (Figure 1).
Other materials used in the construction of the drum came from the reindeer – an animal of particular significance to the Sami – which provided the hide for the face of the drum.
The iconographic symbols of the drum face are striking and often contain various deities. sacred places. The ‘bowl type’ drums were about 33x48 cm and have an oval shape. The distinctive symbols on the drum face were painted red which was obtained by a technique of chewing alder bark and using the juice as paint (Gjerde). The sections were important for the drum to act as a map of the worlds of the living and the spiritual realms.24) On the drum in figure 1 we see many humanoid figures some likely deities.).W 7-8:15pm
Drums like the one in Figure 1 were handcrafted from natural materials in the Sami environment and speak to us of the Sami people’s relationship with nature. The wooden base was created out of the burl of pine or spruce trees (Drums of Sweden). I find the floating humanoid figures at the bottom particularly peculiar on this drum face. animals. The drum hammer and pointer were carved from the reindeers bones (Jr. Due to the Christian suppression of the Sami’s religion we really don’t know how the original Sami interpreted the symbolism and specific positioning of their drum faces.Nathan Lannholm
HUMA2120-001: spring term – M. In the upper right we can clearly see a reindeer – a particularly recurrent motifs on various drums. in relation to hunting which is one of the central features in shamanism. for example. which is connected to the base by the sinews of the reindeer. humanoid figures. The importance of the zones and symbols on the drums as an integral part of the Sami animistic religion and way of life is pointed out by Francis Joy:
. On this drum we also see what looks like Christian iconography of crosses and what looks like a building with three crosses on the roof – apparent evidence of syncretism." (Joy 2011. and buildings. "The positioning of these figures is known to have been of crucial importance for the Sami using the drums to bring balance and alignment in the relationship between human beings and the natural environment.
Another peculiar detail about the drum face is the five sections – six if you include the partial section at the very bottom – with the previously discussed symbols throughout. p.
The Sami would often perform divinatory pre-hunting rituals as a way to persuade the nature spirits to grant them favor in a successful hunt (Jr. In this way the drum is like a bridge between worlds so the noaidi could help the Sami in times of crisis such as healings and advice.27)
The Sami drums are a symbol of the importance of the sacred in the daily lives of the Sami.Nathan Lannholm
HUMA2120-001: spring term – M. was ritualized and then portrayed in association with how the function of the cosmos was interpreted and understood within their culture which formed a sense of unity amongst the people. p. (Joy 2011. This understanding was then expressed in a holistic way within Sami religion as an expression of maintaining a state of cosmic order between the different levels of existence. A secondary use of the drum was that they were used as an oracle.
. For me the drums have dual meaning and significance . To divine the noaidi would strike the face with the hammer and the pointer would move over the face from the vibration created. The primary use of the runebomme was for the noaidi to enter an ecstatic state in order to cross between the dual realms of our world and the spirit world. To live in harmony with nature required the noaidi who were like a shaman or medicine man for the Sami people.the original meaning of a sacred tradition that no longer exists in the culture and new contemporary meaning to those of us who become familiar with the Sami's sacred drums and the struggle against human oppression. The ultimate meaning of the Sami sacred drum is as a symbol and tool of man’s relationship in the world with the dual sides of the mundane and the spiritual. The Sami people were originally animistic and believed that all of nature contained spirit.).
The Sami drums were an integral part of the sacred to the Sami culture. of both the physical and mythological worlds. Depending on where the pointer landed the noaidi would be able to interpret what the message was based on the positioning and meaning of the symbols on the drum. Living in harmony with nature was essential to the Sami people who were a hunting culture.W 7-8:15pm
The importance of the positioning of zones and figures on the drums has been essential for the Sami community for understanding how the landscape. especially the realm of nature.
fredrikgille. Sami drums.htm (accessed 04 20." Finnmark: Sandivas.d. n. http://old.com/music/drums/samidrums.. "Sami Drums . Jr.Then and Now. http://www.Nathan Lannholm
HUMA2120-001: spring term – M. 2007. http://www.47. Gjerde.
. "Copy of Sami runic drum belonging to 100 year old Sami Anders Paulsen 1691.d.W 7-8:15pm
Drums of Sweden. Ken Emerson. n. n. 2012). Tor.no/samidrum/ (accessed 04 18. 2011: 113-144.utexas.d. 2012). "The History of Lapland and the Case of the Sami Noaidi Drum Figures Reversed.htm (accessed 04 20. Joy." Sami Culture. 2012). Figure 1. Francis.edu/courses/sami/diehtu/giella/music/noaidi." Electronic Journal of Folklore vol.