Igor Barutkin lives the Lappish village of Lovozero near Murmansk in northernmost in Russia: “Very interesting and beautiful places. Lakes, Hibinsky mountains, tundra… Look on Google:) Earlier I often went to the North of Finland and Norway and was in Ekmokk. Now there is no time while. Lappish knives and utensils, it is my bread, my work. My way of life.”
Igor is a student of Jon Ole Anderson and practitioner of duodji, the Sámi traditional way of life. The word duodji is also used as a mark of authentic Sámi handicraft. It relates first of all to the handicraft itself and in second place to the Sámi way of life. Igor can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002077936834 Take a look at his work!
“The knife is a universal tool. The Sámi often have several knives hanging from their belts. The knives have different functions. The larger knife is used instead of a hatchet, the everyday knife for all kinds of daily needs, the calf-marking knife is special and is used to cut the markings on the reindeer calves’ ears.
The form of the sheath of the knife depends on the natural shape of the reindeer antler and one can basically distinguish two typical shapes: one with a long gentle curve and one with a more pronounced curve. The sheath with the more pronounced curve occurs more commonly in the north. The handle of the knife is made of masur birch and reindeer antler, or totally of reindeer antler. The handle often has bark between the antler pieces that gives a good hold and keeps the handle from slipping in a person’s hand. The handle ends at the top in a knob. The knob is bigger in the north Sámi area while it isn’t as pronounced in the central and south Sámi areas. In the north Sámi areas the handle is often times not engraved while engravings in the handle are common in the central and south Sámi areas.
Knives are made principally in three different variations: 1) the sheath and the handle are made totally of reindeer antler; 2) the sheath is made of reindeer antler, the leather casing of rawhide and the handle of wood or reindeer antler or a combination of both antler and wood; 3) the sheath of wood and the handle of wood or reindeer antler or a combination of both antler and wood. There are also other varieties of knives with the sheath of leather and knives that only have a wooden blade protection, bark or reindeer antler. The knife with a sheath and handle totally made of reindeer antler is considered the artistic handicraft variety of Sámi knives, while the other varieties are considered everyday knives. All the sheaths have a braided reindeer cord to to hang from the belt.
The north Sámi engraving is characterized by the geometric star, flower or heart motives in combination with curved lines, edging and shadings. The edging consists of different engravings, sometimes a combination of different geometric cuts made with the sharp point of the knife and sometimes combined with curved lines. Especially typical is an edging that is like twined cord.
Characteristic for the south Sámi areas are braided patterns. The braided pattern is created by both lines and a combination of the patterns made with the point of a sharp knife. The design often covers the whole handle or sheath. The edging is very strict and is completed by cross-like knife cuts in both simple and double rows. Within the central Sámi area the same braided patterns occur as in the south, the shaded curves, but even simpler star and cross-like design patterns which communicate a relationship with the designs in the north Sámi areas. The lines of the star design are often finished with cuts with a sharp knife. In the production of knives, the traditional designs and pattern combinations have changed more recently to a more general Sámi design and pattern.”
Igor makes some of the most beautiful knives you will ever see, here are a few of my favorites: