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Gietkka, the cradle

The gietkka is a piece of handicraft Duodji used and adapted for people on the move. Its basic material is Scots pine, aspen or spruce. It is not common to use birch for cradle making, but birch cradles can also be found in areas where there are lots of birches big enough for this purpose. The gietkka was already known in the time of Tacitus (98AD), who wrote about people living in the northern areas that put their children into skin cradles. Scholars like Scheffeus (17th century), Leem (18th century), Drake (19th century), Itkonen (20th century) and others have written about gietkka. The cradles have different shapes. Two sizes of cradle have existed: one for the newly born and one for the older baby. When one is to determine the origin of a gietkka one must look at the shape and the way it is decorated. The Eastern Saami gietkka is shallow, the northeast cradle shape is evenly curved and from Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino and westwards the tip of the gietkka is turned up. The Julev Saami cradle shape is more pointed and the tip of the South Saami gietkka is even more pointed. The way of decorating is linked to economic means and the way of decorating the Saami costumes. The woven ribbons tell if child is a girl or a boy and from which area the cradle belongs. Šielat/Amulets of silver are often fastened to the gietkka and they serve as protection, preventing the child from being exchanged with another child belonging to the people of the "underworld". People still make cradles today, but the gietkka is not used as much as before. Today specialising within handicraft makes it possible to order your gietkka from the cradle maker.

About the etymology of the word gietkka.

Gierkav (North Saami gietka), a cradle belonged to Sylvia Vannar, Jåhkåmåhkke/Dálvvadis, the Jokkmokk district.

Gietkka, a cradle made by Gunvor Guttorm.

Gierkav (North Saami gietkka), a cradle made by Kahtarina Spik Skum, Jåhkåmåhkke/Dálvvadis, the Jokkmokk district.

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Gunvor Guttorm

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