Nåejtien njalla / Nåjdens njalla

Artist Carola Grahn, in collaboration with Göte Grahn and Tore Grahn, has created Nåejtien njalla / Nåjdens njalla (The Noaidi’s Bear Cache) in Tärnaby. The sculpture is inspired by a sign on a Sámi drum from Lycksele Lappmark.

The sculpture Nåejtien njalla /The Noaidi’s Bear Cache is inspired by a sign on a Sámi drum dating from 1723. It is believed to have been owned by Jon Andersson of Raan in Lycksele Lappmark. Today the drum is to be found at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris. It was most likely confiscated by a Danish-Norwegian missionary.

The sign on the drum is believed to represent a njalla (a bear cache) – a raised structure for storing food; the triangular form of the sign indicates that earlier njallas consisted of a roof placed directly on a floor. This particular sign features hooks, which makes it unique and reminiscent of signs for holier places. In the sculpture Nåejtien njalla /The Noaidi’s Bear Cache, the hooks have been transformed into reindeer antlers.

The sculpture’s name and hollow form would suggest that it is a structure intended for storing more intangible things. Rather than food it may house the place’s history and tacit knowledge. It is a reminder of the power of thought, spirits in animals and plants and the meaning of dreams.

The Nåejtien njalla /The Noaidi’s Bear Cache was created for the site where it stands today, next to the Bear Stone in Tärnaby. The Bear Stone is reputed to be one of Tärnaby’s first sleeping places and the bear occupies an important place in the Sámi worldview, symbolising courage, strength and wisdom. It can transform into a human and vice versa.

On Carola Grahn

Carola Grahn (b. 1982) is a southern Sámi artist from Jokkmokk, currently based in Malmö. Power structures and social constructions, mainly in relation to ethnicity and gender, are recurring themes in her art. In 2021, she was awarded the Asmund and Lizzie Arles Sculpture Prize; she is also the recipient of several grants. Carola Grahn is represented in various collections, including Moderna Museet, Public Art Agency Sweden and the Daimler Art Collection.

A collaboration between Aejlies in Tärnaby/Storuman Municipality and Public Art Agency Sweden

The Nåejtien njalla /The Noaidi’s Bear Cache by Carola Grahn is produced by Aejlies in Tärnaby/Storuman Municipality in collaboration with Public Art Agency Sweden. The project was a result of the open call Första gången – Steget vidare (First Time – A Step Further) part of the project Knowledge Hub Public Art.

Aejlies in Tärnaby, project manager: Oscar Östergren Njajta Storuman Municipality, project manager: Gunilla Pettersson Public Art Agency Sweden, curator/art consult: Åsa Bergdahl