Page 1 of 1

Tafl in Sápmi

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:25 am
by Hagbard
Mikkel Berg-Nordlie ("Mihkkal"), historian from Sápmi / Norway, sent this information January 17th:

Hi and happy new year.

Since you're keeping track of Tafl events on your website, here are some news from 2018 that you may consider for publication.

In 2018 a network for traditional Sámi board games, Daabloe (link: was established. One of the games promoted in the network is tablut. During the fall of 2018, tablut was taught and played at ten Daabloe-organized events in Norway: in Oslo (3), Guovdageaidnu (2), Bodø and Alta.

Possible photos:
- Daabloe banner (photo: Ingemund Skålnes) ... 718303839/
- Tablut in play at Skatten bar, Oslo/Oslove (photo: Mikkel Berg-Nordlie/"Mihkkal"). A tablut set is available to all customers at Skatten. ... 168073094/
- Tablut at Hundholmen bar in Bodø/Bådåddjå, a town in the region where Linnaeus wrote down the tablut rules in 1732 (photo: Mikkel Berg-Nordlie/ "Mihkkal") ... 692848608/

In 2018, the Daabloe network's Mikkel Berg-Nordlie, Ingemund Skålnes, and Astri Mari Nyborg designed a set of 3D-printable pieces and dice that can be used to play all traditional Sámi board games. They were released on Thingiverse ( under a Creative Commons license (print them for free, but don't sell them). Files for freely printing or laser burning boards were posted on the Daabloe facebook group ( Pieces, dice and boards are based on traditional Sámi board game duodji (handicraft).

Possible photos:
- The Daabloe set: for tablut, sáhkku games, and dablo games. (Photo: Mikkel Berg-Nordlie / "Mihkkal"). ... 519924325/
- Daabloe pieces used to play tablut (Photo: Mikkel Berg-Nordlie / "Mihkkal"). ... 319515412/

All the best,
Mikkel Berg-Nordlie

Re: Tafl in Sápmi

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:33 am
by Hagbard
Copied from the small forum:

2019-01-22 20:17:49 Semargl: Is Ad Elta Stelpur game really Scandinavian historical or modern? I found the rules only in French. ... VDZMeJv664

2019-01-23 07:10:42 Steiger: @Semargl:

2019-01-23 10:30:11 Semargl: @Steiger: I think Skyrk is mistaken about many things. When he is excited, he add his own style.

2019-01-23 10:39:10 Steiger: @Semargl: Yes, it is not excluded - quite possible.

2019-01-25 09:16:14 Mihkkal: A session of Tablut and other old board games in Tromsø this week:
Once there was a Tromsø Tafl Laug, does that still exist?

There will be a course/game evening featuring Tablut and Dablo im Umeå (Sweden) as part of the Sámi Week festival in early March.

2019-01-26 20:32:21 Mihkkal: When it comes to the Skyruk blog: interesting, but some critical notes.
- There's no written or archeological source linking Daldøs to the Vikings. The game is known at the earliest from an 1870s' book. The story of the book is set in the 1600s. It could of course be older but there's no evidence.
- Daldøs is obviously related to the other games in the "Tâb family". How and when these games have spread and changed, and where the first " Tâb style" game was invented... No certain knowledge, just theories

2019-01-26 20:51:33 Mihkkal: More on Skyruk's post:
- He's very much wrong about sáhkku being limited to coastal parts of Sápmi. The earliest possible reference to the game is by an author from the inland, in the 1600s. The earliest certain reference is from the Lule Sámi inland during the mid-1800s. The game is also known from the north coast and east coast+inland.
- To say that Sámi culture is "homogenous" (odnorodnaya) betrays little knowledge about us. We have ten different languages, for one thing. And as for our traditional board games: each district has had its own unique variants of those games. Traditional Sámi board game culture is *very* heterogenous.
- Sáhkku was very much "invented by the Sámi" in the sense that Sáhkku is a unique sub-family of games in the larger "Tâb family" of games, and that this sub-family is only found among the Sámi.
- Again, all statements on how "Tâb style" games have travelled and "mutated" are speculations.

2019-01-26 21:02:28 Mihkkal: Continued on Skyruk's post:
- "Arab game in the North Pole" is a phrase coined by a French researcher in the 2000s. Locally, sáhkku has always been known as a Sámi game.
- That the "Vikings" brought the game to the north is very speculative. 1) It is not known that the Vikings did play tâb-type games. 2) The Danish-Norwegian Daldøs is exclusively known from the extreme southwest of Scandinavia. This is far, far away from the central-northern-eastern part of Sápmi where Sáhkku is traditional. There should be a tâb-type gaming tradition in between if Sáhkku comes from Daldøs or the other way around. It is more likely that the two games share a common ancestor.

2019-01-26 21:14:37 Mihkkal: ...even more on the Skyruk post.
- That the Sámi are/were not sailors is also a statement that betrays lacking knowledge. Medieval Norse sources describe the Sámi as sought-after boat builders, and Sámi participated in the settlement of Iceland. Most of the Sámi population has always been coastal "Sea Sámi".
- Sáhkku was still in play to the 1960s according to published articles, despite efforts by evangelists. (Yet-unpublished research material I have, show it was some places in play until the 1990s - but of course this is somethibg Skyruk cannot know).
- Earliest clear written reference to Sáhkku: 1840s, not 1870s. Possible mention also 1600s.
- Sámi " c" is pronounced "ts" and not "k". So "pirttsu" and not "pirkku".
- The idea of "princes" in Sáhkku is a speculation from the researcher Itkonen. It has no support in any source.
- Regarding rules: please note that Sáhkku is a family of games, not one game. There were different variants in different parts of Sápmi.

2019-01-26 21:23:48 Mihkkal: More on the Skyruk post:
- There's a misunderstanding here about the hats. The four-corner hat is also a hat for men. Some female sáhkku warriors do have hooked tops though, and these symbolize the ladjogahpir hooked hats for women.

2019-01-26 21:34:24 Mihkkal: Final note on the Skyruk post: it's an impressive piece of work, but when it comes to the section on Sáhkku it suffers from some lacking knowledge about Sámi history and culture that leads to some dubious conclusions. Regarding historical development: if the "tâb family" did originate in the Middle East, I think the geographical distribution of Sáhkku and Daldøs makes it more likely that "Tâb games" came through Novgorod to Sápmi and was in Sápmi turned to the Sáhkku games, whereas Daldøs has a separate connection to the Tâb family.
Regarding the rules, all I can say is that research has marched on, and that the revitalized Sáhkku games currently played in the north use other rules than those presented here. They can be found in the Daabloe network's group ( in various languages.

2019-01-27 16:45:12 Steiger: Thank you, Mihkkal, for such detailed and deep comments.

Re: Tafl in Sápmi

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:36 am
by Hagbard
2019-02-11 17:20:47 Mihkkal: Crash course and free playing of Saami Tablut and South Sámi Dablo in Umeå, Sweden on March 6th. Venue: Västerbottens museum, 18:00-21:00. ... -bradspel/