Máttaráhkká: Mother Earth in Sami rock art
2013 06 10
By Inga-Maria Mulk | Past Horizons
In this article I explore the meaning of the images scratched, engraved or painted on to rock surfaces in northern Fenno-Scandia. Some of these images have been interpreted as symbolic representations of the Earth Mother figure whose existence and agency underlie much of the pre-Christian world-view of the Sami people. Before examining the evidence of rock art representations, some background will be presented for this region and its inhabitants.
The Sami, formerly known as Lapps, are an indigenous population who occupy today the northern fringes of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola peninsula of Russia.
Figure 1. Map showing the Sami language compared to other Finno-Ugrian languages.
The various Sami languages all belong to the Finno-Ugrian family, with linguistic connections to Finnish, Estonian and various languages in northern Russia (Figure 1). The Sami number today about 100,000 people, and we think of them as occupying the sub-Arctic fringes of nations that extend further south. The archaeological evidence, on the other hand, suggests that in the past the cultural links of the Sami people were mainly to the east, with Finns and other related peoples in northern Russia.
Rock art in Fenno-Scandinavia can be divided into northern ‘hunter’s art’ and southern ‘farmer’s art’ styles. The distribution of rock art sites shows that ‘hunter’s art’ is found not only in the area where Sami people live today but also across a much more extensive area settled in earlier times by the ancestors of the Sami (Figure 2). The rock art takes various forms, including polished carvings, pecked engravings and paintings made with red ochre. Very often the rock art is found in sites that are associated with water, for example springs, waterfalls, rivers and close to the sea. The commonest motifs are zoomorphs (often elks and reindeer), boats, and anthropomorphs. In this article I will suggest that many of these rock art motifs are direct or indirect representations of the Mother Earth deity known to the Sami as Máttaráhkká.
Máttaráhkká within the Sami cosmos
Who is Máttaráhkká and what is her place in the Sami cosmos, or world view?
We can attempt to represent in visual form the Sami world-view, using a range of historical sources (Figure 3). As with other northern Eurasian peoples, for the Sami the cosmos consisted of upper, middle and lower worlds. The Upper World was associated with the South, with warmth and life, and with the colour white. It was the domain of both the Sun (always female gendered) and the Earth Mother figure (Máttaráhkká). The Middle World was the everyday world in which we live, associated with the colour red. People shared this world with special liminal creatures such as bears. Through sacrifices and rituals, humans were able to gain access to these other worlds.
In Sami myths, a River of Blood separates the Middle World from the Underworld. Across this river the souls of the dead must cross after death, while at birth new souls come back from the Underworld to the land of the living. Sinister diving creatures like otters, loons and seals can travel underwater to the Underworld, which has associations with the North, cold, the colour black, and with bubbling springs and deep caves.
Read the full article at: pasthorizonspr.com
Tune into Red Ice Radio:
Robert G. Johnson & Janey Westin - Hour 1 - The Last Kings of Norse America
Scott Wolter - The Kensington Runestone, The Hooked X & Templars In America
Scott Wolter - The Kensington Rune Stone
Nils-Axel Mörner - Hour 1 - Ale’s Stones: The Sun Ship Calendar
Mikael Jalving - Hour 1 - Absolut Sweden: A Country Undergoing Change
Christopher Knight & Alan Butler - Civilization One, The Moon & The Megalithic Yard
Hugh Newman - Megalithic Sites of New England
Freddy Silva - Ancient Sacred Sites, Invisible Temples, Giants & Our Ancestors
In Hebrew’s revival, a Nordic people see hope - The Sami
Going Secular: Norway abolishes state-sponsored religion
The Magic and Sorcery of Iceland
Female Genitalia Carvings Are Europe’s Oldest Rock Art
"Amazing" Rock Art May Revise Australian History Books
Perthshire Rock Art Sheds Light on Scotland’s Prehistoric Past
Latest News from our Front Page
Pyramid of the Sun Turning to Dust
2014 03 10
All we are is dust in the wind, so the saying goes, but it’s troubling when it happens to great ancient monuments that we assume will be around forever.
Pyramid of the Sun, Pirámide del Sol, Teotihuacán, México (Wikimedia Commons)
New Scientist reports that the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico is turning to dust and could collapse:
The Pyramid of the ...
Elephants Never Forget A Voice
2014 03 10
According to a new study, wild elephants are discerning listeners who can differentiate between various human languages, genders, ages, and more. Such surprising skills continue to marvel researchers.
Not all the intellectual surprises are on the large animal front. Research has shown that crows are extremely intelligent, some dogs recognize over a thousand words and have the intellect of a toddler, ...
RIP, psychiatry: the “chemical-imbalance” theory is dead
2014 03 10
This one is big.
Dr. Ronald Pies, the editor-in-chief emeritus of the Psychiatric Times, laid the theory to rest in the July 11, 2011, issue of the Times with this staggering admission:
“In truth, the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion was always a kind of urban legend — never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists.”
The point is, for decades the whole basis of ...
Space Elevator By 2035, Says International Academy of Astronautics
2014 03 10
Going up? Way up?
The space elevator - An idea which used to be pure speculative science fiction has gained renewed interest.
ExtremeTech.com lays out the technical challenges of the audacious (crazy?) plan to extend the 100,000-kilometers-long tether into space. Especially problematic to the mission is the fact that the materials and technology needed to create the space elevator don’t actually exist ...
One million Britons descended from Vikings says new study
2014 03 10
A new study is showing that approximately 930,000 people can claim to be of direct Viking descent in Great Britain today, especially in the north of Scotland. The ancient Norse peoples’ influence is still being felt in modern times.
Around one million Britons are directly related to Vikings, with people from the north of Scotland most likely to have Viking ...
|More News » |