In several of my earlier posts on Finland I have been raving about how warm and nice the Finnish people are. Well the Lappish people take the cake…that too a blackforest one with the cherry on top!!!
On my recent trip to Rovaniemi, I met the 2 most wonderful people…in fact amongst the nicest people that I have met in my life!
Irene and Ari Kangasniemi have a handicraft company called Kangasniemi Hornworks. They run a program called Secret of the Antler Programme wherein they tell you how to make handicrafts from different renewable natural raw materials like Reindeer antler and leather, birch bark, silver pine and bur. Everyone has a chance to make their own souvenir to take it back with them.
They not only welcome you into their studio, but after you are done with making your souvenir, they welcome you into their home.
The visit began with Irene telling us about Lapland and their culture. Then she told us about Reindeers and what an enlightening session that was.
- Reindeers have 20 types of antlers only! The male antler can grow upto 2cms per day!
- There are 3 reindeers for every human being in Lapland!
- Rudolf, the red nosed reindeer is actually white! He is a true albino deer which is a white deer with pink eyes. So much for Hollywood always showing Santa with brown coloured reindeers on his sled!
- While crossing the road, if a reindeer hits a car, the reindeer dies. But if a moose hits the car it is for sure that the man will die.
- Reindeers are very, very intelligent. They have a thick coat of fur, and each hair is hollow. So they walk against the wind in winters so that nothing gets trapped inside their fur and they don’t get cold. In Summer they walk in the same direction as the wind and so the wind gets trapped in their fur and they don’t get too hot!!!
- Reindeers have a very interesting cycle for their antlers …as in when it grows, how much it grows, when it is shed based on the need and whether they are male or female. Every sentence Irene said had me wowing!
After that Irene showed us some of the antlers. That is her with a set of male antlers and me with the female antlers.
Next was the actual workshop…I wanted to make a Kuksa, which is a traditional coffee/tea cup. That’s me working with Ari in his workshop, and let me tell you, it is not as easy as it sounds! I actually began with a block of wood, went on to smoothen out the wood and giving it some rounded shape. Then came the handle…getting that curve and shape was quite a job… which I wouldn’t have managed had Ari not been helping me. Gently he would guide my hand on the machine.
And finally the proof of the pudding – my KUKSA!!!!
Once my Kuksa was ready, she wanted to pack it for me. She gave me such a beautiful pouch (at no extra cost!!!). She had heard me say that I went for a husky safari, so she packed it in the coffee pouch on which she has made a picture of a Husky Safari. How very thoughtful!!! And finally when I went to her house she gave a bag of Blueberry tea to put in the pouch along with the Kuksa.
Then she welcomed us into their traditional Lappish log home, where she opened everything for us. She wanted to tell us about the Lappish way of life and housing. She even took us to her bedroom and showed us some of her traditional dresses!!!
Blueberry juice, cinnamon rolls and Irene telling us about the Lappish way of life…a perfect afternoon! Cherished and fond memories are made of these.
From Irene’s talk, you could gather that she is very proud of her heritage and wants to preserve it and wants people to know about their culture and handicrafts. She just seemed to want to hold on to the old traditions and bring them back. And I totally believed her as for the entire program they charge a meagre 25 euros!!! They don't do this program as a business proposition, but because of their passion for their art and culture.
3 cheers for Irene and Ari