When you are traveling it is easy to join the path of other travelers. All of a sudden, souvenir shops become interesting. Even in the smallest places you can find one. People love to buy something that will remind them of the trip in the future. When we were on the Diamonds of the Arctic tour we swung by many of these outlets. At the souvenir shop in Kaunispää for one, we saw silver jewelry made by Inarin Hopea.
Inarin Hopea is on the other side of the road to Sámi Museum Siida. We had just come from the Ukko Island and were headed for dinner. But Inarin Hopea being so close we decided to pay them a visit. It will only take a minute or two. It took more than an hour.
We had just come back from Ukko Island. Jewelry had been sacrificed on the rock according to scientists. As Ms. Raili Laurila talked about her husband’s silverwork she was actually connecting the ancient Ukko with our time. Ornaments of that time have the same function as they have today. Not only as a sign of material wealth, but just as much of a comforting nature. One of the most popular necklaces of today is certainly the one with the Holy Cross.
In Inari they are not hammering the Christian Cross. The silversmith Mr. Matti Qvick showed us the process of making a bracelet and a silver spoon. He studied in Lathi for four years and has been perfecting his skills ever since for 36 years. As he explained, he will hammer the silver without really looking at it. Instead he is looking at his fingers. It seems like he is feeling with his fingers how the silver is formed one knock after another.
The design of his work is inspired by nature and old stories. New ideas for jewelry are infinite. Raili showed us some examples displayed in the store. One important piece of jewelry is the Saami brooches that the women use. The brooches become bigger for every major life event, such as confirmation and weddings. Another was the rattling ball for babies. These two types of jewelry rattle when it is touched or moved. It is supposed to keep the evil spirits away.
The Sun is an important source of inspiration in a lot of jewelry. In the north the sun is gone for two months every year. The Sun is up 24/7 for two months every year. The symbol for the Sun for the Saami people looks like a Celtic cross. The bear is a symbol of strength and fertility.
Angelo sacrificed a number of euros for a necklace with a bear in the middle of the Sun. The jewelry will bring him luck accompanied by the strength of the powerful bear. This jewelry blesses you, says Raili, it will keep safe all you need in life.
When you know the story behind the jewelry it becomes personal.