Ethnic Clothes: The Lapps or Sami


Figure 1.--Traditional Lapp clothing is design for cold weather. It used reindeer leather. Ethnic wear is now very colorful, but this may be an modern style reflecting the appearance of inexpesive dyes in the late-19th century. HBC know of no destinctive children's styles.

The indigenous people of Norway and the rest of northwestern Europe are the Lapps or Lapplanders. The proper name is the Sami. They are a people that many Europeans are familiar with, in part because they are located in Europe, but akso because of the conndection with Reindeer and Santa Claus. The Lapps are the indigenous population of northwestern Europe. They currently number about 60,000 and are concentrated mainly in Norway, in part because of suppression and restrictions in movement in the old Soviet Union. They call themselves the Sami. The language is completely different than Norwegian. They speak a Finno-Ugric language. The Lapps are believed to have originated in central Asia. They were not originally an Arctic people. Their attire has been affected by their Arctic environment. It has also influenced Norwegian fashions and clothing.

Lapland

Lapland lies in a geographically interesting position. Lappland is a vast area of northeastern Europe, largely within the Arctic Circle. It is part of the northernmost region of Fennoscandia known as the 'Calotte'. Its southern border roughly follows the Actic Circle. Lappland covers northern Norway, northern Sweden, northern Finland, and Russia's Kola Peninsula of Russia. Relations with Sweden and Norway are close, and there are numerous border crossing points. The route to Europe's northernmost spot, the North Cape, runs right through Finnish Lapland. Contact with the Lapps in the Soviet Union was closed early in the Soviet era.

Climate

The Lapps live in and have adapted to a severe Arctic climate. The vegetation in the Arctic includes both a sparse tundra except in the forested southern zone. Lapland is rich in flora and fauna that thrive only in Arctic areas.

Seasons

Lapland is a vast area that lies largely above the Arctic Circle. It has five distinct seasons, spring, summer, autumn, kaamos and winter. Finnish Lapland is the mysterious land of Santa Claus, and home to the domestic reindeer.

Economy

The Lapps were the Europeans most affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the old Soviet Union. Reindeer are central to the traditional Lapp economy. They were used for food, clothing, and shelter. The reindeer is a strong, semi-wild animal that the Lapps have domesticated for their own use. All rein deer are owned by some one. Each herd is indicated by the owner's earmark cut in the time-honoured way with a knife. Great care should be taken when driving in Lap land as reindeer tend to gather on roads. There are about 220 000 reindeer in Finnish Lapland alone, thus outnumbering people. Raindeer heards were seriously contaminated by nuclear fallout from the Soviet Chernobyl disaster, dealing the region a severe economic blow. There are important high-grade iron ore deposits at Gällivare and Kiruna (Sweden), copper deposits at Sulitjelma (Norway), and nickel and apatite deposits in Russia. Lapland offers portunities for travel and holiday making the whole year through. Specialities are gold panning, white water rafting, fishing, hunting, trekking, cross-country ski ing, reindeer and dog-sled tours and snowmobile safaris.

Lapplanders

The Lapps or Laplanders are the indigenous population of northwestern Europe. They currently number about 60,000 and are concentrated mainly in Norway, in part because of suppression and restrictions in movement in the old Soviet Union. They call themselves the Sami. The language is completely different than Norwegian. They speak a Finno-Ugric language. The Lapps are believed to have originated in central Asia. They were not originally an Arctic people, but have been pushed to the limits of habitable land in the northern extremities of Europe by the later migrations of more numerous Finns, Goths, and Slavs. Their folk dress is strongly affected by living in the northern extremities of Europe. Only a small minority of Lapp families today belong to the reindeer cooperatives ('villages'), and even they are not really nomadic: only a few full-time herdsmen follow the deer. Families may however spend their vacations with Dad in the summer grazing lands up by the Norway border. A considerable number of Lapps live in Stockholm and work office hours. The traditional culture and the language are alive and developing however, and crafts like knife-smithing, bone and horn engraving, woodcarving and tin-wire embroidery are an important source of income. In Jokkmokk there is an interesting Lapp museum, Ájtte (meaning Storehouse). Most young people of all ethnic groups understand and can make themselves understood in English. The Lapps are well organized and politically aware.

Terminology

Laplanders use the term Sami instead of Lapps. "Lapp" actually means a patch of cloth for mending, thus the name suggests that the Sami are wearing patched clothes, a derogatory term and one that needs to be replaced. The word "Laplander" is also problematic since that could mean any person who lives within this region, also those that are non native. Finally there's a part of the Sami population who always have lived outside the region of "Lapland" such as the Sami's in Swedens, Jemtland and Härjedalen.

Lapp Clothing

The traditional clothing of the Lapps or Sammi reflects the frigid Arctic environment in which they live. For the Sami, the traditional clothing is an everyday expression of ethnicity (or togetherness) which differs from the clothing of neighbouring cultures. As traditional Lapp clothing was primarily an adaptation to the severe climate, fashion was secondary to function. Lapp ethnic dress tioday is very colorful. This may, however, reflect the appearance of inexpesive dyes in the late 19th century rather than tradtional styles. Actually Sami's traditional clothes is very diverse. HBC knows of no specifically children's fashions. Children and adults appear to wear the same styles. The Lapps today seem to dress mostly in Patagonia clothes.






HBC





Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]



Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing ethnic pages:
[Main ethnic page]
[American] [Amish] [Dutch] [French] [German] [Greek] [Irish] [Lapps] [Malaysian] [Native American] [Scottish]





Created: August 5, 2000
Last updated: 11:06 AM 11/11/2017