Turf hut and tent

Right up until the 20th century, the Sámi largely lived in turf huts and lavvo (tents). Four important goddesses lived beneath the floor of the dwelling, Máhtáráhkká, and her daughters Sáráhkká, Juksáhkká and Uksáhkká.

These are particularly known from south Sámi areas. These goddesses had vital roles when children were created and could ease menstruation and childbirth and watch over the infant in its first years. It was particularly common to make offering to Sáráhkká, who lived beneath the fireplace.

There were rules about who should be where in the turf hut or tent, depending largely on age and sex. Behind the fireplace was a sacred area of the dwelling known as boaššu. Several sources state that women were not allowed to enter that part of the dwelling. This was also where the sacred drum was kept.

Mebius, Hans, 2007: Bissie.
Leem, Knud, 1767: Beskrivelse over Finmarkens Lapper.

Govva/Foto: Várjjat Sámi Musea/Varanger Samiske Museum