Spoon of reindeer antler

Spoon of reindeer antler
Accession number: 
Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

Spoon made of reindeer antler carved with Saami decorations.

Field collector: Arthur John Evans
Date of collection: Circa 1873
Continent: Europe
Geographical area: Northern Europe
Country: Finland
Region/Place: Lapland
Cultural group: European Saami
Size: 144 mm (length)
Acquisition: Joan Evans. Donated August 1941


Primary documentation: ‘[p.588] Dr. JOAN EVANS, from the property of the late SIR ARTHUR EVANS, Youlbury, Boars Hill, Oxford. Specimens collected by Sir Arthur Evans in 1873 in LAPPLAND, from a Lapp station on LAKE FLAMMASJÄRVI, FINLAND [list of items follows]’; ‘[p.588] Five carved spoons of reindeer-antler’: Pitt Rivers Museum accession records (Donations X, 1937–1941), p.588.

Research notes: This is one of eleven Saami spoons [1941.8.1–.11] from Lapland collected by Arthur Evans. It is unclear, however, whether all eleven of these spoons were collected by Evans during his voyage to Finland in 1873. Indeed, the existence of one spoon [1941.8.8] featuring an inscribed date ‘1876’ suggests that not all of them were. In his journal of the voyage Evans specifically describes collecting only one spoon made of reindeer antler, at Kyroe near Lake Inari on 12 September 1873: ‘Here I got a Lapp reindeer spoon with most characteristic zigzag ornaments’ (entry dated 12 September 1873): Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Sir Arthur Evans Archive, B/2/1, Box 1, Notebook 2, p.128. This mention of ‘zigzag ornaments’ enables one to identify the spoon with some certainty as 1941.8.6, since this is the only one of the spoons to feature predominantly this kind of pattern. The addition to its bowl of a pasted label, noting ‘ENARE LAPPMARK’, appears to confirm the identification, since none of the other spoons has any such label attached. As for the other spoons, there are several possibilities regarding their collection, none of which can be ascertained with certainty: (1.) they were collected by Evans during the course of his voyage to Finnish Lapland but not recorded in his journal; (2.) one or more of the spoons may have been among ‘several Lapp things’ collected by Evans at Muonioniska on 14 September 1873; (3.) one or more of the spoons may have been among ‘some Lapp ornaments’ collected by Evans at Luleå, Sweden, on the return journey, between 20 and 27 September 1873; or (4.) they were collected at some later date, as presumably was the case for 1941.8.8 mentioned above: Philip N. Grover, ‘Note on Eleven Saami Spoons in the Arthur Evans Collection’ (see Related Documents File). For more information on Arthur Evans’ voyage to Finnish Lapland in 1873, see Joan Evans, Time and Chance: The Story of Arthur Evans and His Forebears (London, 1943), pp.172–176; Ann Brown, Before Knossos...: Arthur Evans’s Travels in the Balkans and Crete (Oxford, 1993), pp.14–16, 90; and Tony Lurcock, No Particular Hurry: British Travellers in Finland, 1830-1917 (London, 2013), pp.123–134, 250.