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Asa Kitok and in search for the roots of Duodji

Now the winter market in Jokkmokk is over. It is the biggest event of the year for many Saami handicrafters. This year was especially important for me since I have known for a while that I had won the Asa Kitok-Award.

Niilla ja mu Niibi (2)

It is an award that is given every year by the Saami Handicraft Organization to a handicrafter of their choice. It is  a great honour and many skilled handicraters have won it before, several of whom have inspired me greately in my work. The award is a small encouragement in money but the main thing is that you get to do your own exhibition at the Saami Handicraft Organization during next years market. You apply for the award with an idea wich the money is supposed to be used for.

Duodji is the name we have for our handicraft in our own language. My idea is to make traditional Saami duodji with simple handheld tools and to use as few machines as possible, if any at all. Our forefathers did amazing handicraft with simple tools and so can we. They got their materials from the nature to a greater extent than we do and used only the tools that they could afford to bring with them migrating with the reindeers all year round from one grasing area to the next. Today many have the notion that we need a lot of machines in order to make Saami handicraft from wood and antler.

I want to show that we can make as beautiful or even more beautiful items using just handtools. It is fitting to show the above picture when talking aout this subject. The two knives are one made by my late grandfathers brother, Nils Prost, the other one is made by me inspired by his knife. The knife belonged to my mother and is well used. Nils made it using only simple handtools and what makes it even more interesting is that he was completely blind.

One can only imagine making a knife like that blindfolded… I wount try to pull that one of but I will at least even out the scores a bit with less machines.

The award is to Asa Kitoks memory, a remarkable Saami woman who preserved the ancient art of weaving thin roots for making bowls, cups, chests and even bottles. She passed on the knowledge to her daughters and in doing so saved an important part of our rich handicraft heritage.

Much in the same way as Asa Kitok I am in search for the Saami handicrafts roots and preserving ancient knowledge. Next years winter market will be special in so many ways.