Tuesday, September 23, 2008


its an amazing feeling to come somewhere with reasonably high expectations, and have them exceeded. on friday i went to jamtli, the local museum. (http://www.jamtli.com/english/) to enter the exhibit, you can either take the stairs, or go in the mouth of the Storsjöodjuret, the lake monster (who reputedly most often frequents the south east part of the lake, exactly the area where birka is) and down a slide, where you end up in the middle of a lappland scene of sammi knives, reindeer furs and faint sounds of joiking (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joiking). i am going to try and go up north to see the reindeer and aurora borealis.

here are some excerpts from the museum website:


9000 years ago, the glaciers melted away in this region. Shortly thereafter, the first humans arrived, following the game into the new country.
During the following 7000 years, people lived as hunter-gatherers, moving around in small groups according to the changing seasons and the migrations of the animals.
The exhibition shows what a settlement could have looked like, what people ate, and how they adapted to life with tools and weapons. Perspectives on time and change may be challenged, as these archaeological finds are exhibited side by side with tools still used by different peoples around the world today.

We Built the Country

This is a series of exhibitions focusing on the life of the people who settled and cultivated Jämtland-Härjedalen in the centuries before the industrial revolution. The man and the woman had different responsibilities, and it was absolutely necessary to be a couple to manage a farm. They are shown amidst their daily chores, and the variety of skills and knowledge they needed to survive in the often harsh conditions is impressing. The farmers of Jämtland were also tradesmen. In wintertime, they travelled all the way to Levanger in Norway to the west and Stockholm to the south-east to buy and sell goods on the markets.

Bliss and Bounty

This exhibition focuses on the prosperous century from 1750 to 1850. People met and fell in love in those days too, and the need for celebration was just as great as it is today. The point of departure is a wedding party, and the most beautiful items from the museum’s huge collection of dress, textiles, drinking-vessels and furniture are on show. In the folk music and language room, folk dance and music is presented in a suggestive slideshow. There is also a collection of 900 different recordings of folk music, Sámi joik, fiddler’s tunes and shepherd songs. For visitors with a special interest in language, it’s possible to have a few lessons in jamska, the dialect of Jämtland.

it was all in swedish, but i understood some, and the exhibits were really interactive and child friendly (you can crawl through teepees into dark caves where there are flashing wolf eyes.) i was able to recognize a lot of things from my scandinavian mythology class, such as the story of sigurd the dragonslayer when he had to play harp with his toes to enchant a pit of adders so they wouldnt kill him (though in the end, he gets tired and dies). jämtlis main attraction however, is the worlds oldest intact viking tapestry.

they also have a park called "history land" where they have farms and buildings from the 1600s to 1800s. during the summer, there are historical reenactments as well as music and food. in december they have a christmas market, ice sculpture workshops and sleigh rides! the museum was filled with amazing knowledge and handicrafts, as well as the exact mittens i am currently knitting! i am going to go back and use it as a resource to learn more about local handicraft and folk traditions. i want to see if i can have academic access to their research libraries. i also want to investigate possible linguistic connections to jämtli, the local dialect, and the folk music traditions that i have been learning. ethnomusicology div iii?

tomorrow i begin making a zither, and next week i am going to bicycle to norway. more soon.

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