Rock art and Sami sacred geography in Badjelánnda, Laponia, Sweden
Sailing boats, anthropomorphs and reindeer
IN THIS BOOK Inga-Maria Mulk and Tim Bayliss-Smith discuss a new rock-art site from the Badjelánnda mountain region of northern Sweden. The site was first discovered in 1990 by a reindeer herder, and this book provides the first full documentation and interpretation of the images and their meanings in relation to the Sami world-view. The images at the site belong to three different phases, of which the last are early modern graffiti. Anthropomorphs of the first phase are seen as stylistic representations of Mattáráhkká, the earth mother figure of Sami belief. These cosmic symbols would have made sense in the context of rituals at the site associated with quarrying asbestos and soapstone, hunting wild reindeer, or human burials. Images of boats, reindeer and humans from Phase 2 are dated to the Viking Age or early medieval period. These icons reflect Sami-Norse interaction and hence new ways for the Sami to visualise old symbols, with counterparts in both Sami myths and in the motifs seen on Sami drums. The Badjelánnda site attracted rock art because of its special significance in the Sami cultural landscape, being a liminal place with perceived connections to other worlds and associations with liminal events taking place within Sami hunting society. The book is unique in applying to a rock art site a semiotic approach to the images themselves, as well as an analysis of sacred geography that places emphasis on concepts of landscape anomaly, perceived liminality, and the role of images in religious ritual.
INGA-MARIA MUlK is the former Director of Ájtte, Swedish Mountain and Sami Museum, where she now holds the post of Researcher. After reading archaeology at Uppsala University she did her doctoral research at Umeå University, where her dissertation was published in 1994. She has done field excavations in north Norway and in Sweden, especially in the Lule valley. The initial focus of her research was on settlement sites, hunting pits and seasonal mobility during the Sami Iron Age. More recently she has also written about Sami sacrificial sites, cultural landscapes and rock art. She served for many years on the Council of the World Archaeological Congress, and she has also been active in documenting the Sami cultural heritage in the Laponia World Heritage Area.
TIM BAYlISS-SMITH is Reader in Pacific Geography in the University of Cambridge, and Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge. Hitherto most of his research has focused on Melanesia, with field-work in Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. His interest in traditional land use has led to collaboration in the Pacific with both archaeologists and anthropologists, reconstructing prehistoric agriculture and the use of tropical rainforests, past and present. In Sweden he has collaborated with Inga-Maria Mulk, documenting and interpreting the Badjelannda rock-art site, and reconstructing the sacred geography of Sami cultural landscapes.
- Inga-Maria Mulk, Tim Bayliss-Smith