The Sámi People as Witches and Fairies in the British Tradition

Key words
the Sámi, fairy euhemerism, witches, fairies, Picts, Victorian studies
Daria A. Trynkina
About the Author
E-mail: Tel.: +7 (495) 938-00-19
32a, Leninskii av., Moscow, 119334, Russian Federation
PhD in History, Academic Secretary of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences
Date of publication

In this article, the attempt is made to distinguish the origins of the association of the Sámi people with the mythological characters in British culture of 12th–19th centuries, and to dwell on two important stages. First are the premises for the formation of the Sámi 
 image as witches, which was expressed in the Shakespearean “Comedy of Errors.” It is argued that the image was founded on the traditional written sources, the rise of scholarly demonology, the folk-beliefs of Orcadians and Shetlanders, the increased contacts with Scandinavian sailors and probably with the Sámi themselves.

The second stage is the change of the Sámi image by the time of Sir Walter Scott. The rationalization of folk beliefs in the Age of Enlightenment led to association of the Sámi with the abstract mythological characters whose general purpose was to explain the very genesis of popular mythology. This euhemeristic interpretation which also included Picts, Pechs and Pixies flourished in Victorian folk studies until it was highly criticized by Edward Tylor and other members of the Folk-Lore Society. 


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For citation

Trynkina D. A. The Sámi People as Witches and Fairies in the British Tradition. Traditional Culture. 2020. Vol. 21. No. 1. Pp. 103–113