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Traditional Sami costume

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Marie Boine singing
Kvanne is a herb which grows in Sápmi. it was traditionally used for keeping people free from diseases. Photo: Marie-Louise Niia.
Handed down tradition

The old Sami singing style is said to be the oldest musical form in Europe. Yoiking has not always been appreciated as a form of music, however. At one time it was not even called music.

As early as 1609, the king of Denmark and Norway, Christian IV, announced that anyone practising Sami witchcraft would be sentenced to death. The Church viewed yoiking as witchcraft, right up until recently. There are still people living who consider that you should not chant a yoik in a church.

Yoiking is the Sami way of singing. The western way of singing is called lavlodh.

Social function
The part of the tradition to have survived best in the face of western culture is the personal yoik. In the past, every single person had their own yoik. Most people have several, which develop as the individual grows and develops his or her personality. It is possible to yoik dead relatives, forgotten places and dramatic events, to make sure they do not disappear from the collective memory bank. When a conflict arises between two people, frustration can be expressed by inserted disparaging verses in the other person's yoik. In the same way, it is possible to express devotion by yoiking the person you love.

Yoik dialects
Within the Sami region there are three main yoik dialects. The Southern Sami yoik is called vuollie. The northern Sami refer to their yoik as luohti, while the Skolt Sami, who can be found in the most easterly part of the Sami region, have their own tradition called leu'dd. The eastern Sami do not yoik - they leu'dd.

The yoik's philosophy
The Sami world view is based on shamanism. The yoik creates an emotional bond between people, animals and nature. We don't yoik about something, as you do when you sing. We say that we yoik something. Then we become a part of what we are yoiking.

"Yoiking is a way of remembering. Some are remembered in hate and in love, while others are remembered in sorrow. These songs are also used about particular regions and about animals, about the wolf and the reindeer and the wild reindeer.'' (Johan Turi, 1917)

Senast ändrad: 2006-11-22
Visste du att
... you can create your own yoik. Go to the first page and click on the banner to the right!

... There is a difference between yoiks from different areas, like the Northern Sami and Southern Sami yoiking in Sweden

... yoiking is a way of communicating feelings and memories

... nowadays there are both traditional and modern yoiks

... everyone can yoik

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