Collections of Relics of Culture of Finns, Norwegian and Finnish Lapps
Collections of Relics of Culture of Finns
The Museum possesses Russia's largest collection of the Finns' cultural relics. It was established with the assistance of scholars and collectors from Finland, who acted as the Museum's correspondents.
In 1911, the Museum received 426 items assembled during an expedition by Professor U. Sirelius of the Helsingfors University, founder of Finnish ethnography. Added to that stock in 1914 were 230 exhibits sent in by the correspondent I. Kotikoski. These formed the basis of the Museum's Finnish collections. The materials in question provide a deep insight into the principal and auxiliary occupations, women's and men's crafts, pieces of interior decoration, as well as utensils and dishes. The collectors built up whole series of items, selecting primarily those no longer in wide use and giving preference to abundantly decorated ritual and festive articles. Conspicuous items are carved and painted distaff blades and other implements of women's work, boxes and caskets for clothes and toiletries, and parts of a festive horse-harness.
A unique part of the collection is made up of famous Finnish nap carpets and travelling rugs executed in the ru technique and carrying stylized floral and geometrical patterns. The collection contains a total of twelve carpets, six of them dated (the earliest dating from 1797 and the latest, from 1827).
The collectors gave much attention to clothing. It is represented by seven sets of maidens', women's and men's clothes worn by the Finns in the Vyborg Gubernia: winter and summer garments, various headgear and accessories, e.g. kerchiefs, gloves, girdles, and gaiters. A unique exhibit is a male costume from the island of Lavansaari in U. Sirelius' collection and articles of old wedding costumes (a groom's frock-coat and a bride's shawl) acquired by Kotikoski.
A rare exhibit among the ritual items is an archaic type of a shepherd's set consisting of a piece of iron, and a bear claw, paw and tooth, which served as an amulet.
Collections of Relics of Culture Norwegian and Finnish Lapps
Of great historical and cultural value is the Museum's collection devoted to the ethnography of the Norwegian and Finnish Lapps assembled during the expedition of 1907-08 by S. Serghel, a museum correspondent, who was responsible for about a fourth of the entire Lapp display. His eighteen-month expedition included a winter migration in the inland areas of Finnmarken (Norway) with a reindeer-herder, Henrik Sara. S. Serghel availed himself of a unique opportunity to observe the everyday life and work patterns of reindeer- breeders, participating as he did in their activities on a par with the Sara family. He then proceeded to study the Lapps' mode of life in the Finnish villages near Lake Enare, staying rather long in the villages of Karashok and Kautokeino. As a result, he assembled a large number of unique items linked to the economy and distinctive cultures of the different Lapp groups. He acquired over 250 items from the Norwegian Lapps, and 60 items from the Finnish Lapps. Particularly well represented are clothes and ornaments, utensils and means of travel. The silver wedding spoons of the 18th century belong with rare kinds of objects. The collector himself accurately catalogued the exhibits, providing vernacular terms as well as information about the application and purpose of each item.