Sami / Saami Lapland carved reindeer antler.
A lovely antique Sami / Saami carved reindeer antler. This type of item is a real rarity and very seldom available for sale so it is a lovely thing to have in a collection.
The Sami people are indigenous to the Arctic areas of Norway, Sweden , Finland and Russia. Historically, the Saml and the reindeer were interlocked in survival, both depending on one another for life in an unforgiving landscape. The Sami treated their reindeer as revered gifts from the Earth, using all parts of the reindeer in an ecologically friendly and spiritual manner. Reindeer were used as draught animals, as a food source, hides were used for clothing, bones for tools and female reindeer were milked to provide sustenance. The reindeer truly provided the means for existence.
The antlers of the reindeer were used not just for making household implements such as eating utensils, but also were carved and decorated and used as knife sheaths. The carvings including the reindeer is a traditional design dating back hundreds (or thousands?) of years. This is a beautiful example of these carvings. The antler itself has a lovely patina built up over many decades of handling. Dating this piece is difficult, but looking at the patina and also the wear and aging on the leather end, I think that this is probably late 18th or early 19th Century.
When it was made, another piece of antler was joined alongside the existing one near the base and then the carving extended over both pieces as can be seen in the photos.
A really lovely and rare item. The antler is 27cm in length and 21cm wide.