Rydving, Håkan: Tracing Sami Traditions

Rydving, Håkan: Tracing Sami Traditions

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In Search of the Indigenous Religion among the Western Sami during the 17th and 18th Centuries

Instituttet for sammenlignende kulturforskning/The Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture (IFSK). Serie B, 135.

Do we know anything about the indigenous religion of the Western Sami during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? In fact, there are several types of sources at hand, and this book discusses the most important of them. Thus, it proposes a terminology for the places of sacrifice, argues that any interpretation of the figures on Sami drums must be based on the preserved explanations of the owners, presents a hypothesis concerning the interrelations and geographical distribution of the accounts written by missionaries, and gives examples of how terminologies, dialect geography, and place names can be used to supplement other sources.

The book also examines earlier research about the connections between the indigenous religions of the Sami and the Scandinavians, and Sami ideas about the ritual landscape and the most important ritual specialist, the noaidi.

All in all, the ten chapters exemplify methodological problems faced by any student of the cultural history of the Sami. They suggest ways to deconstruct some of the traditional scholarly myths about this people, and attempt a partial reconstruction of our understanding of its religious traditions.

Håkan Rydving is Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Bergen, Norway.



Preface 7

List of figures and maps 11

Part I From historical research 13

1. Scandinavian-Sami religious connections 15

Part II Searching for traces 29

2. Archaeological material: places of sacrifice 31

3. Drums and drum figures 39

4. Missionary accounts 57

5. Terminologies: the terms of noaidevuohta 73

6. Dialect geography: the names of the thunder god 93

7. Place names 105

Part III Ritual landscapes, ritual specialists 113

8. Visible and invisible landscapes 115

9. The birds of the noaidi 125

10. A noaidi in Bergen 135

Abbreviations 145

References 147

Acknowledgements 167

ISBN 978-82-7099-543-1, 168 pp., hardcover
Format: 17x24 cm, weight: 0,6 kg, year of publication 2010, language: English

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