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Three Sámi bracelets made of tin-thread, reindeer skin, and antler. (Photographed at the 2017 Nordic Knitting Conference by Julie Whitehorn)

What is Duodji?

Duodji, or traditional Sámi handicrafts, include clothing, hats, belts, jewelry, shoe bands, cups, knives, bags, needle cases, cheese forms, and harnesses. Aesthetically beautiful, functional, and portable, duodji has been produced by Sámi duodjar (artisans) for thousands of years, and like the gákti, is intended for daily use.

As with the Navajo / Dine and other Indigenous peoples, the Sámi have had their designs appropriated and mass-marketed. Sámi efforts to maintain the integrity and quality of duodji include craft schools, guides, exhibitions, and trade associations. A Sámi Duodji Association trademark indicates to buyers that the item was made according to traditional principles, of traditional materials, by a trained and experienced Sámi duodjar (souvenirs and other items that have no traditional or functional use are not eligible). That said, many Sámi duodjars elect not to pay for the trademark, and rely on their reputations to speak for themselves.

You can help support the integrity of Sámi duodji:

  • buy products made by Sámi
  • consult Sámi for referrals
  • purchase materials for your crafts from Sámi suppliers
  • include source details when you give or display duodji
  • label items inauthentic items as “Sámi-inspired” as appropriate
  • call out mislabeled or fake duodji