Knud Leem, 18th-century specialist on Sami language and culture – Part II – Housing

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“When a coastal Sami lies in his hut, or a mountain Sami lies asleep in his tent, his bottom quilt is a widespread reindeer hide… On top he will have a fur bedcover and a thick wool blanket… A husband and his wife, their children and servants will all lie quite naked, and close to the ground, even during the most severe chill of the winter.”

“When a Lapp travels by water and, for one reason or another, has to head toward land… he will take his oars and raise them on the shore, leaning them against each other, and spread his sail over them. Inside he will stay put until ready to leave once again.

The Norwegian Knud Leem was the leading 18th-century specialist on Sami language and culture. On the initiative of Thomas von Westen (1683-1727), Leem arrived as a missionary in Finnmark, in 1725. Leem collected large quanitities of ethnological documentation on the Sami in his work as a vicar at Talvik and Alta, up until 1734. His observations and understanding of Sami behavior, living conditions and disposition are recorded in a publication called Beskrivelse over Finmarkens Lapper, deres Tungemaal, Levemaade og forrige afgudsdyrkelse. This was published in 1767, in Copenhagen. The Danish text is accompanied by a parallel Latin text. An extract was also released in German, in 1771 (Leipzig), and in English, in 1808 (London). The English volume was titled An Account of the Laplanders of Finmark, their Language, Manners, and Religion, and this was the first volume in the serial called A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in all Parts of the World, which was published from 1808-1814, by John Pinkerton.

More Knud Leem here.

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