Sami lavvu

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Sami lavvu

While more and more young Scandinavians are camping in modern, metal framed, tent-canvas covered lavvus which are even equipped with electric fires, the Sami (Lapps) themselves are increasingly being sucked into the more comfortable western way of life. A group of them, however, still live as semi-nomadic reindeer herders in the polar regions.  While they traditionally build huts (gamme) for themselves, even so they spend a lot of time in tents of various sorts to allow them to follow the reindeer herds.

The lavvu can be built quickly: a tripod is made of forked poles leaned against each other, onto which a dozen or so straight poles are laid, which are then covered in a animal hides or roughly woven canvas, or perhaps birch bark. The top of the tent’s roof is left open so that a fire can be laid in the middle of the tent. The hearth is surrounded by stones, and a floor is made of bark or twigs with furs laid on top of them. The only exception is the area before the threshold, where firewood is stored on the bare floor. The Sami sleep on either side of the fire, and if it is particularly cold, even by polar standards, they sleep under a canopy.