Sámi drums in Historia Norwegiae (c. 1190)

Historia Norwegiae is a Latin-language history of Norway written in the second half of the twelfth century. In the chapter describing the Sámi is found the oldest description of the Sámi drums and their use.

Latin edition by Lars Boje Mortensen (2003) English translation by Peter Fischer (2003)

Sunt namque quidam ex ipsis, qui quasi prophete a stolido uulgo uenerantur, quoniam per immundum spiritum, quem gandum uocitant, multis multa presagia, ut eueniunt, quandoque percunctati predicent. Et de longinquis prouinciis res concupiscibiles miro modo sibi alliciunt, nec non absconditos thesauros longe remoti mirifice produnt.

Quadam uero uice dum christiani causa commercii apud Finnos ad mensam sedissent, illorum hospita subito inclinata expirauit. Vnde christianis multum dolentibus non mortuam, sed a gandis emulorum esse depredatam, sese illam cito adepturos ipsi Finni nichil contristati respondent. Tunc quidam magus extenso panno, sub quo se ad profanas ueneficas incantaciones prepararet, quoddam uasculum ad modum taratantarorum sursum erectis manibus extulit, cetinis atque ceruinis formulis cum loris et ondriolis nauicula eciam cum remis occupatum, quibus uehiculis per alta niuium et deuexa moncium uel profunda stagnorum ille diabolicus gandus uteretur. Cumque diutissime incantando tali apparatu ibi saltasset, humo tandem prostratus totus niger ut ethiops, spumans ora ut puta freneticus, preruptus uentrem uix aliquando cum maximo ⟨fremore⟩ emisit spiritum. Tum alterum in magica arte peritissimum consuluerunt, quid de utrisque actum sit. Qui simili modo, sed non eodem euentu suum implens officium — namque hospita sana surrexit — et defunctum magum tali euentu interisse eis intimauit: Gandum uidelicet eius in cetinam effigiem inmaginatum ostico gando in preacutas sudes transformato, dum per quoddam stagnum uelocissime prosiliret, malo omine obuiasse, quia in stagni eiusdem profundo sudes latitantes exacti uentrem perforabant. Quod et in mago domi mortuo apparuit.

There are some who are worshipped by the ignorant masses as though they were prophets, since, whenever questioned, they will give many predictions to many folk through the medium of a foul spirit which they call “gand”, and these auguries come true. Furthermore they attract to themselves desirable objects from distant parts in an astounding fashion and miraculously reveal hidden treasures, even though they are situated a vast distance away.

Once, when Christians who had come to trade had sat down at table with some Finns, their hostess fell forward all of a sudden and expired. While the Christians felt serious grief at this calamity, the Finns were not in the least saddened, but told them that the woman was not dead, merely pillaged by the gands of her adversaries, and that they could quickly restore her. Then a magician, spreading out a cloth under which he might prepare himself for intoning unholy sorcerers’ spells, raised aloft in his outstretched hands a small vessel similar to a riddle, decorated with tiny figures of whales, harnessed reindeer, skis, and even a miniature boat with oars; using these means of transport the demonic spirit was able to travel across tall snowdrifts, mountain-sides and deep lakes. After chanting incantations for a very long time and leaping about there with this paraphernalia, he finally threw himself on the ground, black all over like a negro and foaming at the mouth as if he were mad; ripped across his stomach, with a mighty roar he eventually relinquished his life. Next they consulted another specialist in the magic arts as to what had happened in each case. This individual went through all his practices in similar fashion, though with a different outcome: the hostess arose in sound health and then he revealed to them that the sorcerer had died in the following way: his gand, having taken on the likeness of a whale, was shooting rapidly through a lake when it had the misfortune to encounter a hostile gand, which had transformed itself into sharply pointed stakes; these stakes, hidden in the depths of the lake, penetrated the repulsed creature's belly, and this was also manifested by the death of the magician in the house.