Book launch event of artist Outi Pieski and Eeva-Kristiina Harlin’s art, duodji and research project Máttaráhku ládjogahpir – A Foremother´s Crown Ládjogahpir.


Outi Pieski & Eeva-Kristiina Harlin

A Foremother´s Ládjogahpir Crown 


The artwork featured in Skábmagovat’s poster is by Sámi artist Outi Pieski; part of Pieski and scholar Eeva-Kristiina Harlin’s art, duodji and research project Máttaráhku ládjogahpir – A Foremother’s Crown Ládjogahpir. A book from the project will be released soon after the Skábmagovat festival. The ládjogahpir, with its upright appearance, is a graceful headgear that was used by Sámi women until the end of the 19th century in the area of Sápmi that today is Northern Norway and Finland. There is a folklore in the Sámi society, which states that priests forbade the use of this hat, claiming that the devil lives in the horn-shaped fierra. Like the sacred drums, the hats had to be burned. The ládjogahpir represents the old Sámi cosmology and a world view of gender equality. It represents a society that prospered before colonial gender violence brought heteropatriarchy and western epistemologies to Sápmi. The narrative of the devil’s horn can thus be interpreted as a metaphor for demonizing the Sámi female guardian spirits, the foundation of Sámi cosmology and spirituality. 


Today 60 ládjogahpirs are in museum collections in the Nordic countries and in Europe. Only a few hats remained in Sápmi. This project explores the meanings and values of cultural artefacts for Sámi people, individually or personally and socially or collectively. As Sámi scholars have pointed out, duodji can be referred to as a message that is open to those who speak the language. Indeed, cultural objects can have a healing influence and they can also help us recall values. Objects carry spiritual meaning, symbolism and particular relations to past generations. For Sámi people, the repatriation of cultural items is extremely important.


Working collectively, Harlin and Pieski invited Sámi women into workshops, with the purpose of finding new ways of making and using the ládjogahpir. This way of working can be defined as craftivism, an activism that uses handicrafts as medium, while empowering the participants. As a result, the ládjogahpir has been resignified, putting forth new meanings and recreated as a positive symbol of today’s Sámi resistance. Even if a certain world view has been lost due to colonialism and Christianization, the ládjogahpir is here revitalized or, rather, rematriated, which in this context means a gender equal re-socialisation of cultural belongings into society, beyond the reach of repatriation. 


The Sámi goddesses dwell in the earth and it is our obligation to listen to them. When we embrace gender justice and pay attention to the larger biocultural reality, we will also comprehend that mother earth, the eana eannažan as a female being must be respected. Violence towards women is synonymous with the violence to and plundering of the earth. The ládjogahpir may be regarded as a symbol of a new decolonial feminism, forwarding a message from the foremothers that still live beside us.


Eeva-Kristiina Harlin

Eeva-Kristiina Harlin (b. 1972)  is a doctoral researcher at the University of Oulu, Giellagas Institute (Institute for Saami Studies) in Finland. Her doctoral dissertation deals with Repatriation politics of tangible Sámi cultural heritage. She has worked at the Finnish Heritage Agency, the Historical Museum in Sweden, SIIDA – The National Museum of the Finnish Sámi, RiddoDuottarMuseat in Norway and the Sámi Archives of Finland. She has worked with themes like Sámi cultural heritage and repatriation questions together with the Sámi society for a long time. Harlin has conducted surveys regarding Sámi cultural heritage in Nordic and European museums and she is currently doing a survey of Sámi archival materials in European institutions. In addition to Sámi collections and repatriation she is specialised in ethical questions in archaeology related to Sámi culture.


Outi Pieski

Outi Pieski (b. 1973) is a Sámi visual artist based in Ohcejohka (Utsjoki) and Numminen, Finland. Her paintings and installations delve with the Arctic region and the interdependence of nature and culture. Her work combines the Sámi handicraft tradition of duodji and contemporary art practices to reopen conversations about the Sámi people within transnational discourses. As a member of The Miracle Workers Collective (MWC) Pieski has been currently exhibiting in the Finnish Alvar Aalto Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (2019). There she presented her site-specific sculptural installation Ovdavázzit – Forewalkers (2019. Since graduating from Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts in 2000, Pieski has exhibited in Sápmi and internationally. She was an Ars Fennica Award candidate in 2015 and won the Fine Arts Academy of Finland Award in 2017.