Sámi Shoe Bands
Shell Bands, Skallebånd, Vuoddagat, Paulanauhat
Shoe bands were woven by the Sámi and are worn to prevent snow from getting into your boots. One end of the band is tied to the shoe lace of the boot. The band wraps around the top of the boot and up the leg and is tied with laces around the top of the leg. The ends of the laces tuck inside the band. The bands are woven using pure wool yarn. The wool has insulating properties and helps to keep the wearer warm. The shoe bands are worn much like modern day gaitors.
The Sami shoe bands and other woven articles are a part of the Sámi national dress. Each Sámi family uses its own designs, patterns and colours that identify who they are and who they are related to. This is much like the tartan patterns that represent clans of the Scottish families. Please respect the patterns and do not copy them without permission.
As I was born in Canada and did not know my Sámi family or ancestors, I have decided to make my own design for the members of my family. I am using a pickup band weaving method that was used by the Sámi in the Sor Varanger area of Norway – where my Sámi grandmother was from. This pattern uses 11 or 17 pattern threads depending on the width of the band. The pattern threads float above or below the tabby ground weave. Because this creates a 2 layer band, IMO this adds extra warmth and insulation to the band, due to the double thickness of the band.
I have called this design – LumiRetki – Snow Trails, or tracks in the snow.
My Sámi Grandmother
As I weave these bands, my thoughts go to my Sámi grandmother – Maria Dahl.
Maria was born in Sor Varanger, Norway in 1873. Maria’s father (Johan Marvinius Rask Dahl) was from a wealthy Norwegian family and Maria’s mother (Birte Mortensdatter) was a Sámi from Bugoyfjord. Maria married a Finnish boatbuilder and moved to Petsamo (Pechenga) She had 8 (?) children. Her husband died on the night that my father was born. A few years later, several of her children died during the plague that hit northern Europe.
Maria supported her family by weaving. During the summer she would travel to Norway and sell her handwoven bands, reindeer leather bags and other items to members of the Sámi communities. In winter months, she worked by candlelight. One year, one of the neighbours brought her an oil lamp. She was the first person in the village to own a lamp. She was very happy with this generous gift – now she could see and be able to work better during the dark winter days. Neighbours would comment as they saw the light shimmering through the window – Oh there’s Maria working at all hours of the night.
Now I listen to Sami music and think on these things, as I weave in the traditions of my ancestors. 100 years later and things are much the same. I have stocked up on candles and head lamps so that I can continue to work, as the UK is expected to have fuel and electricity shortages in the coming months. Progress? Funny old world…
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Categories: SAAMI CRAFTS