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Mittwoch, 25. Februar 2015

Impressions from Karesuando

Gabriele has done me a great favour when she wrote me a mail the other day. She had been to Karesuando and wrote about her adventures there.
Obviously, her first impressions were those from the window of the plane: And Lapland was there, wide and clad in a mantle of snow.
And, as seems to be customary, Lapland welcomed her with open arms. This is a snöljus, a snow pyramid with teacandles inside for a welcome. She then visited the factory of Karesuando Kniven to watch the people craft those knives that are in use all over the world and to make her own.
Those knives I have talked about in a most recent post, and while I am not all agreed with everything they do there is no mistaking the fact that they are great and refined tools. Gabriele made her own at the factory and gave me some impressions about how those tools are made.

The raw material for the handles is curly birch from the region. I personally like the fact very much that all materials come from the region, or at least from Finland and Sweden (steel), guaranteeing a low ecological impact. Hats off to this corporation. The wood has a far higher density than comparable birchwood burr from Middle Europe, because of the hard circumstances in which those trees grow. This in turn makes it less prone to working loose, even if there is only a short tang inside.

The handles are fitted to the tang with a tight fit and then ground to shape.

This is Gabriele finishing the handle of her knife with a mixture of turpentine and oil, making it resistant to weather and dirt, but not giving the handle that "dead" feel a laquer often gives. This is a very traditional approach making the handle more serviceable, while not requiring too much of it.

As you can see, much of the work in building the knife is actually made by hand. Here apparently the bolsters are fitted and blades are prepared.

All this handiwork results in knives like the Järven model... I personally love this one very much.
 This is the Galten model. We will learn where the reindeer antler comes from soon;-).
This is "the boss";-), Per Erik Niva. Per-Eric manages the corporation and, having met him in person, I can safely say he´s a nice guy to boot.
 Gabriele in full "battle mode", out with a snowmobile. I am a bit envious of this experience... I guess it must be a great experience being out there in the beautiful landscape with a "big girl´s" toy...
 She also told me of a reindeer herding that took place when she was there. Reindeer still mean a lot to the Saami in the vicinity, even though they can no longer live the nomadic life of their ancestors. They are even forced by the government to sell and butcher their herdes "by decree". We Middle Europeans tend to regard Sweden and Scandinavian countries in general as a kind of social paradise, and while it is true that we can learn a lot from Scandinavian contemporary culture, be it educational, social or integration programs, all´s not grand in wonderland. And in my opinion we could learn a lot more from Saami culture, and I would go as far as stating that they might have a lot of insight that might even solve our ecological problems. For it is not only necessary that we learn the rational aspects about nature. We need a new natural lifestyle, including emotional and spiritual aspects as well. Learning includes learning a new respect for their culture. It is not possible to just take what we need from them, but we have to learn how to respect in the first, before we could even ask.

 Anyway, she provided me with these wonderful photos of the renrajd. The reindeer live half-wild most of the season. For the marking and butchering, they are herded together.
 This is normally done in winter, when they are relatively tame.
 This is Sara, reindeer breeder and Karesuando kniven employee taming a reindeer for marking out. Sara spontaneously invited Gabriele into her site caravan for coffee and delicious bread with reindeer sausage and a very heartful chat. Lapland is very welcoming, as it seems! Gabriele wrote it so envisioning that I felt the urge to get there one day.
 The herding is arduous and not exactly very easy work, potentially dangerous, too. No sissies here!
By the way, the antler is of course also used in the Karesuando knives.

As a conclusion, I can say that Gabriele´s mail made me crave for more. It is a fascinating region, and the slöjd and culture of the Saami even more so. I hope Gabriele will provide me with more correspondence about the factory and, especially, Sápmi culture.

I want to offer her my heartfelt thanks about the exclusive insight and wish her many more of these wonderful experiences!

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Now go on, discuss and rant and push my ego;-). As long as it´s a respectful message, every comment is welcome!

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