Friday, 31 May 2013

Did you know...

Looking at the Sami / Sápmi flag one wonders if there is a symbolism for the design and the colours.

Just a little note; Sápmi (or Samiland) is not the same as the province of Sweden called Lapland, but the cultural region of the indigenous population of Northern Europe and covers the northern parts of Norway (40,000 people), Sweden (20,000), Finland (6,000) and even a small northern part of Russia (2,000).
Although it covers the four countries, there is (from as late as 1986) one common flag:

The sun and the moon is symbolised by the circle, where the red part is the sun and the blue part the moon. The red, green, yellow and red is the same colours as the 'kolt, the traditional Sami costume.
I have not been able to find out the significance of those colours, but will keep looking.

The more I read, the more complex the story gets with the different groups, languages, etc. 
To be classified as an indigenous population it means that they have always lived in the same place before the country was invaded or colonised. And as we can see they have their own culture, language and customs to the rest of the society.

It is interesting to note that it wasn't till 1992 that Norway and Finland official recognised the Sami language, whilst it took Sweden to 2000 (!) to recognise it as an official minority language.

As Swedish differs to Norwegian, so does the Sami language. So are they different languages or dialects? 
The Sami language is divided up into 3 main dialects (Eastern Sami, Central Sami & Southern Sami), which in turn can be divided further into 9 further dialects or varieties...out of those dialects Northern Sami is spoken mostly (I believe the figure is 17,000 people comparatively to the roughly 500 who speak Souther Sami). And just like it may be difficult for Swedes and Danes to understand each other so may the understanding be between the different dialects. 

Another interesting fact about the language is that although the estimate of the Sami population in Finland is much less than the Swedish or the Norwegian counterpart, the actual history of the Sami language comes from the same family as Finland, Estonia, Hungary & Livonian called the Finno-Ugric and not like the other Scandinavian languages; part of the Northern Germanic languages. I think I need to look at the movement through history of the Sami, but that will be another post :) 
I will also have to look into the different costumes that are traditional to the Sami as the embroidery, type and colours represent the region from which the people are from. They are absolutely beautiful!

This post will finish with a couple of photos and I will try to find a picture of my late grandfather who was from Gällivare, north of Sweden with his Sami hat and post that later.

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