Sunday, 9 September 2007
This anonymous young Saami man reminds me of the Finnish Tatars previously featured on Chirayliq.
In 1884 Prince Roland Bonaparte (1858-1924) organized an ethnographic expedition to Lapland. A portfolio was issued from the negatives taken during the trip by "the Prince's usual photographer". It is not clear from the source site which part of Lapland they went to, but I would guess at Norway from the available names of the other portrayed people.
The science of the time was interested in classifying people according to superficial "racial characteristics". The Saami were especially often targets for this sort of research, being something as rare as an indigenous European nomadic/seminomadic people of uncertain origin (as if anyone can be really certain of his/her origins). It has taken decades of struggle for the Saami to gain acceptance as something else than a research object or a specimen in a museum, and still, within the Saami communities, there are struggles going on between different ideas of what is "typically" Saami (reindeer herders against fishermen and farmers, city dwellers against country folk). (Some modern genetic research; see also the link to a paper on the Saamis' genetic link to the Volga-Ural region, not a common ancient ancestor as some might think, but a rather recent connection!)