Anders Paulsen’s North Sámi drum, confiscated and interpreted in 1691

Anders Paulsen, or Anders Poŭelsen as the name is spelled in the original documents according to the Danish orthography of the time, was an old North Sámi man whose drum was confiscated in december 1691. In February the following year, he was charged with witchcraft at the court at Vadsø, the regional capital. The original manuscript of the court proceedings survives, documenting the “confession” he made under interrogation about his use of the drum and the meaning of its symbols, and also his demonstration to the court of this use. The two highest dignitaries present at the court, the regional governor Hans Lilienskiold and the bailiff and magistrate Niels Knag who was presiding over the court, both wrote accounts of the case. Lilienskiold used the material in three different manuscripts, all quoting an excerpt of the court documentation with insignificant changes, mostly tidying up and shortening the text. Knag wrote an account which reproduced a similar part of the court document text, albeit with several details differing in substance, supplementing this with additional details from the period of interrogation between the arrest and the court hearing. Two copies of this account survives, with some differences between them. Knud Leem also paraphrased the description of the drum from the court proceedings in his Beskrivelse over Finmarkens Lapper (description of the Sámis in Finnmark).

At the time of the court hearing, Paulsen claims to be “a short hundred years old, that is five score”, distinguishing the number from the old “long hundred” of six score. As no doubt as to the veracity of this is recorded, this could not have been a glaringly obvious exaggeration at least. He vacillates between claiming to have made the drum himself and that it had been given to him by a mentor called Anders Pedersen in the Swedish part of the North Sámi area. It is easy to suspect that he changed his story in this way in order to claim that he had only performed some of the actions outside of the jurisdiction of the Danish crown, once he realised that what he regarded as purely beneficial use of the drum was considered as criminal by his interrogators.

Fortunately, the drum still survives, and very little of its design has been worn away, despite the drum being described in the court transcript as “very worn from its continual use”. Ernst Manker’s tracing of the design shown above contains a dotted reconstruction of the circular symbol in the lower right part. This reconstruction omits a detail included in the account, a small loop extending from the circle on its upper right.

The layout of the drum is unique among all surviving or otherwise documented drums. It most closely resembles the few other surviving North Sámi drums, who are characterised by two horizontal lines dividing the surface into three rows, whereas this one has four lines and thus five rows. Due to this difference, Scholars have placed it in a category apart from those, denoting the categories “Finnmark type” and “Torne type” respectively. I cannot accept such a division for several reasons:

Notes on the transcription

The handwriting is fairly clear and consistent. The few instances of abbreviations are expanded in parentheses, except ordinal numbers and titles abbreviated with superscripts, which are retained. Emendations are placed in square brackets. The first instance is the correction of a final d to n; some supply letters accidentally omitted by the scribe, but most supply single letters at the end of lines which are now hidden in the later binding.

There is some uncertainty as to whether compound words should be written as one, as in modern orthography, or separately, as the manuscript generally does, including splitting them over line breaks without hyphens. I have tried to stay true to the custom of the manuscript, but cannot guarantee full consistency on this point. A similar uncertainty is whether some letters should be read as upper or lower case. The letters a, g, m, n, o and w are usually just written somewhat larger when uppercase is intended, although at least some of them also have distinct letterforms for uppercase. At intermediate sizes the intent becomes unclear, and I have resorted to follow the clearest parallels at other points in the text. The letter k only occurs syllable-initially and following s, as in all other postitions this sound is written ch. It is always written with a shape that must be regarded as an uppercase form, but I have transcribed it as lowercase whenever it is not word-initial.

Niels Knag, vice laŭgmand ofŭer Stawanger Laŭgſtol, Fogit oc Sorenſkriffer ower Find(march) giör Witterligt, at Anno 1692. Dend 9 Febrŭarij Er Sageting holdet ŭdj Wasöe i OſtFindmarchen, oc blef Retten betient af Nordmends laŭgret, Niels Baſtianßen, Raßmŭs Johanßen, Olle Mathießen, Theopheliŭs Anderßen, Erich Pedersen, Andreas Nielßen, Olle Olßen oc Olle Hanßen, Jtem af Finne Laŭgrette[n], Melchior Mathießen, Jfŭer Gŭnderßen oc Olle Olßen; Retten Præsiderede Hr Cancelj Raad oc Ambtmand ofŭer Waardöehŭŭs lehn, WelEdle oc Welb(iŭrdige) Hans Lilienskiold, Deſligeſte war wed Retten til ſtede, ŭnder Fogden erlachte Mand Olle Anderßen, oc Finne lenßmanden Poŭel Jfŭerßen, oc Andre flere Gotfolch;

Ermelte ŭnder Fogit for Retten frem bragte en Find af Wehranger wed Nafn Anders Poŭelsen, formedelſt hand hawer hafft oc brŭgt it instrŭment Rŭnne bomen Kaldet, oc der wed öwet dend Sleme Ŭ-gŭdelige Throlddoms Kŭnst, hŭilchen Rŭnne bome blef dend 7 Decemb(ris) paſsato fra hannem taget, oc nŭ paa tingbordet fremlagt, oc begierte ŭnder Fogden at ſame Finds bekiendelse om denne Rŭnne bome, ſom hand ŭdj ſin Nerwerelße, Sambt vice Laŭgmand Niels Knag, oc Finne Lensmanden Poŭel Jfŭersen ſom hans ord fortolchede d(end) 8 dec(embris) paſsato, motte hannem foreholdis oc oplæßis, om hand dend wille were gestendig, oc hŭis hand dend wedſtod, formodede ŭnder Fogden at der af ſkŭlle fornehmis hans Troelddoms Kŭnſt, oc gŭds hellige Nafns Mißbrŭg, ſom hand formeente ei ŭden Stra[f] bŭrde af gaa, oc war ermelte Anders Poŭelßens for hen Giorte bekiendelse ſom hannem nŭ paa tinget blef fore læſt, Saaledis;

Sagde ſig at were barn föd i Thorne Lapmarch i Swerige, oc wed ſine Mands aar til holt i lang tid wed ßö ſiden baade i Nordlandene oc her i Find(march) oc diß Jmidler Contribŭeret ßö ſkat oc leding med anden Rettighed lige ſom andre ßö finner, hafŭer oc mange giffte börn her i Find(march) for weſten oc her öſter, ſom ſkatter til hanß K(ongelige) M(aieſtet) allene, af hŭilche en i weſt Find(march) wed Nafn Chriſtopher, hand ſagde at were en god dochter, dog iche Kand Rŭnne bommens dochterſkab, men Kand tale wed ſteen, oc der faa ſwar, hŭad hand ſpörger efter, ſiger ſig at were af et smal hŭndrede aarß alder ſom er fem Gange 20 aar, oc at hafŭe lært ſin wißdom med Rŭnne bomen af ſin Moder i ſin ŭngdom, oc da hand begÿnte at lære, war hand det förſte aar wild oc gal, dog iche ſaa gal at hand giorde nogen Mand ſkade, oc lofde gŭd ham da at hand ald ſin lifs tid ſkŭlle faa god löche, men hand ſagde ſig iche ſee gŭd da hand fich de Löfter, almer Saadanne tancher Kom ham Stedze i bröſted da hand lærde,

Af for ind förte bekiendelße sŭarede hand til en deel pŭnchter, at hand ei Kŭnde mindiß at hanß Sön Chriſtopher Kŭnde tale wed ſteen, dog iche nechtede, at hand io war en goed dochter, fra gich nŭ, at hand iche war wild eller gal da hand lærde, oc ſiger ſig nŭ at hand lærde ſin Kŭnst af en find wed Nafn Anderß i Thorne lapmarch, men hanß Moder gich nj aar gal da hŭn lærde, oc at hŭn talte ofte wed gŭd, Jtem, at denne Rŭnne bome haf(ŭe)r hand ei ſelf giort men faaed dend af Anders Pederße[n] i Thorne Lapmarch ſom han(nem) lærde, tj ſame find oc sin moder war af en Tro,

Rŭnne bomen ſom nŭ er her til ſtede, bekiente hand til forn self at hafŭe giort, det hand nŭ benechter, hŭilchen er megit Slidt af dends Jidelige brŭg. dend er af fÿre træ, ŭdhŭllet ſom en Stor Rŭnd dog aflang ſkaale, oc ſiger hand, at dend dŭer intet ŭden dend er af fÿre træ, i bŭnden paa dend haf(ŭe)r hand ŭdſkaaret 2de aflange hŭller, oc er af ſkaalenß hele træ imellom hŭllerne ſom hand holder dend med, med dend wenſtre haand naar hand ſpiller, ofŭen paa denne ſkaale er feſted et bered ſkind lige ſom paa en trom(m)e oc er ſame ſkind lige ſom et tromſkind, dog af bered Renſkind, hŭilchet instrŭment hand Kalder Rŭnne bome, wed Enderne af dend henger it Refŭe öre, noch et Refŭe öre, et Refŭe trÿne, oc en Refŭe Klo, ſom hand ſiger ſkal were prŭnchet paa Rŭne bomen, paa ſkindet af denne bome haf(ŭe)er hand malet med Kaagt aalderbarchwand, ſom gifŭer Röed farfŭe, förſt afdeelt dend med fire Streger ſom giör fem Rader, oc imellom hŭer Rad er effter ſkrefne Figŭrer malet, huer med ſin bemerchning Saalediß,

Ŭdj dend förſte Rad ſtaar, effter at hand nŭ bekiente ſelf at hafŭe giort Rŭne bomen;

1[.] Menniſkeß lignelße, ſom hand Kalder ilmaris, det er Storm oc Slem weir, naar hand til beder gŭd; da ſkal den same indeholde oc til bage Kalde ſit Sleme weir, oc hand giör wel ſlem weir, men ſiger det er ſÿnd at bede der om,

2. Et Menniſkeß lignelße, ſom hand Kalder diermiß, det er torden; naar gŭd bediß ſaa hielper diermis at naar det er flo weir med megit Regn, da Kalder hand det weir til bage igien, oc at denne diermis hafŭer ingen Magt för gŭd gif(ŭe)r han(nem) for lof; hand til ſtod nŭ oc ſaa, at ilmaris Kand giöre ŭnt oc ſlem weir til at beſkadige ſkiber oc baader, men diermis Kand giöre got weir igien, oc forhindre det ŭnde, naar hand faar lof der til af gŭd,

3. En wild Reenß lignelße, ſom hand Kalder Gvodde, det er en wild Reen, Naar gŭd bedis, da gifŭiß wed dend löche til at faa ſkÿde wilde Reener, oc naar der ſpillis paa Rŭne bomen, da der ſom Ringen iche wil dandze til denne Reen, da faar hand ſom ſpörger effter god löche til ſkötterj, ingen Reen den gang, om hand endſkiönt giör ſin flid der effter,

Ŭdj dend anden Rad,

1. En Rŭnd ſirchel med en Streg igiennem, dend Kalder hand peive, det er ſolen, naar gŭd bediß, da ſkal dend gife got Solſkin, læt lŭft, oc ſmŭch weir, helſt naar Reens dÿrene wil Kalfŭe, naar Korn oc höe ſkal woxe, oc ellerß gifŭe got weir naar der om bediß,

2. Et Menniſkeß lignelße, ſom hand Kalder Jŭmal barn, det er gŭds barn, eller gŭdz Sön Chriſtŭs, naar hand til bediß, saa lößer hand af alle Sÿnder,

3. Et Menniſkiß lignelße, ſom hand Kalder Jŭmal-Etziem, det er gŭd fader, hand Straffer alle Sÿnder, oc ellers hielper ia forſkaffer, ia ſkicher, oc Straffer, naar hand der om bediß,

4. En Kirchiß lignelße, ſom hand Kalder dom Kirch, dend til beder hand effterdj hand dend ſelf haf(ŭe)r giort, oc ſiger hand at faa med dend ſÿnderniß forladelße, Siælenß Salighed, oc en Chriſtelig död, oc enten mand döer eller lefŭer ſaa hielper ſame Kirche,

5. Et Menniſkeß lignelſe ſom hand Kalder Engil, det ſkal were gŭd dend hellig aand, naar hand bediß, hand lößer af alle Sÿnder, ſaa mand blifŭer et nÿt oc Reent Menniſke naar hand wil hielpe,

Dend gŭd ſom til bediß, ſom ofte meldet er, er de lignelßer oc figŭrer ſom hand af Malet haf(ŭe)r effter perſonerne i gŭddomen; ſom hand siger at hanß Moder han(nem) lært hafŭer,

Ellerß Staar hos hŭer perſon i alle Rader en Staf af Malet, ſom hand Kalder Jŭncher Sabbe eller Stŭr Herr Sabbe, det er Jŭnchers Staf eller Store herreß Staf, tj hand siger lige ſom Jordenß herrer, hafŭer deriß Staf i haanden ſaa hafŭer diſße perſoner Stafŭer i deriß hender;

Ŭdj dend 3die Rad,

1. Et Menniskes lignelſe ſom hand Kalder Ste Anna, oc sier hand at denne er Maries Söster, oc er i Raad med Marie naar hŭn hielper, ellerß Kand denne intet giöre ŭden Maries willie,

2. Et qŭindfolchß lignelſe ſom hand Kalder oc Nefner paa adſkillig maade, Maria, Jŭmal Enne, Jŭma[l] Ache, det er, Maria, Chriſtj moder, gŭdz qŭinde, naa[r] hŭn til bediß, hielper hŭn særdeliß barßel qŭinder[,] hŭn hielper oc til at löße fra alle Sÿnder, oc hielper ia til bediß lige wed gŭd;

3. 4. 5. Er 3de: Menniſkerß lignelße, ſom hand Kalder Jŭlle peive, Jŭlle herr, det er Jŭle dage, Jŭlle herrer ſom Raader Jŭlen, oŭcht Jŭle Peiv herr förſte Jŭlle dags herre, goŭgt Jŭle peive herr, Anden Jŭlle dags herre, Gvolme Jŭl peive herr, tredie Jŭlle dags herre, Naar nogen wahn helliger diſße dage, da ſkal gŭd Straffe dend, men naar nogen holder dem ret hellig, oc dend ſame wil bede gŭd om noget, da ſtilles de dage frem for gŭd, oc fore gifŭis at dend eller dend hafŭer holt de dage hellige, oc at gŭd af deſßen aarſage wil hielpe, widere wille hand iche om de dage bekiende,

Ŭdj dend 4de Rad,

1. En Rŭnd Sirchel, ſom hand Kalder Manna, det ſkal were Maanen, naar gŭd til bedis, da gifŭer dend Klart ſk[in] oc got nat weir, om end ſkiönt det er tÿcht ſkÿed weir, widere wille hand iche bekiende;

2. oc 3. Er 2de Mends lignelße, ſom hand Kalder olmoŭg Mane Kirche, det er folch ſom gaar til Kirche, hŭilche hand holder ichŭn for en bemerchning, lige ſom andre folch gaar til Kirche,

4. Er en Kirchiß lignelße ſom hand Kalder Kirche, oc ſkal betÿde dend Kirche hŭor hand haf(ŭe)r ſit tilhold wed; til denne Kirche siger hand baade ſig ſelf oc andre offrer, baade woxlÿß[,] penge oc andet, dog offrer ingen med mindre de blif(ŭe)r hiŭlpen, hŭilchet offer, de ſiden lefŭerer til Preſten til dend Rette Kirche, ſom denne af malede haf(ŭe)r sin bemerchning af, item naar nogen er Sÿg, eller haf(ŭe)r Modgang paa Reen eller andet ont er nogen wederfaret, da bediß oc lofŭiß til denne Kirche, oc naar ſaa nogen blif(ŭe)r hiŭlpen da faar Kirchen hŭiß lofŭet er,

5. En Mandz lignelße ſom Staar paa dend anden ſide Kirchen, det ſkal were en ſom Komer paa dend anden side oc wil gaa til Kirche,

Ŭdj dend 5te Rad,

1. qŭindfolchß lignelße, ſom ſkal were dend bŭndne diefŭe[l] ſin qŭinde, hŭis Nafn hand ſiger ſig iche wide,

2. Et Menniſkes lignelße ſom Staar lidet neden for denne förſte, ſom hand siger ſkal were en diefŭel ſom dræber folch, oc Menniſker, oc ſkal were Siŭgdom,

3. et Menniſkeß lignelße lige for denne ſom melt er, som hand siger skal were dend diefŭel ſom nŭ er löeß oc Regierer i helfŭede oc Swefŭer om i werden, hŭilchen hand ſiger ſig iche hafŭe nafn paa, oc at denne Römte da gŭd bant dend anden dief[e]l |: her effter om meldiß, oc at da gŭd fant denne, da hafde gŭd Jern ſkoe paa oc tröde denne i en Stor Mÿr,

4de Staar Saalediß ⏙, dette Kalder hand Hilvet Tol, det ſkal were helwedis Jld, dend ild brender Menniſkenes Siæle i helfŭede,

5te Staar Saalediß Ꝍ. dette Kalder hand Hilvet Tarve Giedme, ſom ſkal were helfŭediß tiere Kiedel, ſom Kaager Menniskeneß Siæle i helfŭede,

6te Staar Saalediß ▭, dette Kalder hand Hilvet Haŭfd, det er helwediß graf, hŭor ŭdj Kaſtiß alle de Menniſker ſom tror paa diefŭelen, oc Kaſter gŭd dem der ŭdj

7de Et Menniſkes lignelße som hawer en Streg lige fra halßen til en Stötte, denne Kalder hand Hvenaales Gvoliſis, det er en bŭnden diefŭel i lenche, ſom ſkal were dend diefŭel ſom blef bŭnden da gŭd ſkabte werden,

Til denne Rŭnne bome hawer hand 2de hamre, giort af Reen horn, ſom hand Kalder Ziaarve vetzier, med dend ene bancher hand Jidelig paa Rŭnne bomen naar hand noget wil for rette, til med hafŭer hand af Meſßing giort ſom en liden indhŭl dechel med en Meſßing Ring owen til, ſom hand Kalder palm, denne ſetter hand paa Rŭnne bomen, ſom hand wiſte her for Retten, oc löfte Rŭnne bomen op oc ned med ſin haand, wrier oc holder dend af oc til, oc imedens bancher med hameren, oc ſegir hand at wed Meſßing dechelen faar hand at wide om det eller det er ſant eller ei,

bekiente ÿdermere, at naar hand ſpiller paa Rŭnne bome for nogen, oc dechelen dandzer imod ſolen, da hafŭer dend en Slem löche hand ſpiller for, men Komer dend ſaa langt ned at hand Staar wed en af dem ŭnder dend ſiſte Streg i dend 5te Rad, da er gŭd wred paa dend hand ſpiller for, oc maa dend ſame bede gŭd megit för dechelen wil gaa til bage igien, ſaa gŭd lader ham ſee at hand er et ſÿndig Menniſke; Men dandzer dechelen Ret om med Solen, da hafŭer dend en goed löche hand ſpiller for;

Her neſt antog hand Rŭnne bomen oc proberede med ŭnder wißning hŭorlediß hand ſpill[e]r, Korßed förſt ſig, ſaa Rŭnne bomen, oc læſte Fader Wor paa Careelſk, oc begÿnte widere ſin bön, ætziem, achie, ja barne, ja Engilen, væche don, med flere ord; oc ſkŭlle d[e]t were gŭd Fader, din Moder, ia din ſön, ia dend hellig aand hielp nŭ, oc der wed ſlaae paa ſine billeder, oc dechelen dandzede op oc ned, oc hand banchet med hameren, oc fore holt gŭderne diſße ord, ia dŭ gŭd ſom har ſkabt himel oc Jord, Soel oc Maane, ia Stierner, alle Menniſker, ia fŭgle, ia alle fiſke oc hafŭet, oc bekiendte ſine Sÿnder ſigende, ieg er et Sÿndig Menniſke, gamel oc ŭ-werdig, bettre er det ieg döer, end dŭ iche wil hielpe den wj ſpör effter, der hoß ſiger ſig at giöre löfte iche at wil ſÿnde mere, med flere hanß til bedende ord,

Paa til ſpörgelße ſagde han at naar nogen er ſat gand ŭdj Kand han wed ſine gŭder tage ſame gand ŭd oc lade dend Kome i dend ſame ſom hawer dend förſt ŭdſat, wiißed hŭorlediß hand det giör, ſpiller paa Rŭnne Bomen, at dechelen dandzer Rŭndt om bomen indtil dend Komer ned paa en af de Figŭrer i dend 5te Rad, ſom er en af dieflene, da wiger ganden af dend ſom haf(ŭe)r ham, oc i dend ſom ham har ŭdſat; ſagde at hand haf(ŭe)r hiŭlpet mange i Swerig lapmarch, men ingen her i landet,

Thiŭfŭer, der om ſagde hand, oc wiiſte paa ſame maade ſom om gand, at dechelen dandzer til en af dieflene, da Spiller hand ſaa lenge, at gŭd Straffer tiŭfŭen ſom noget har ſtaalet, ſaa at hand törchiß oc Mafris op at hand blif(ŭe)r lige ſom tört træ,

Sagde ſig oc at Kŭnde wed ſin bön til gŭd, naar hand ſpiller paa Rŭnne bomen forſkaffe goed löche til Reenß dÿr, at wlfŭe dem ei ſkŭlle dræbe, oc ſaa i andet erholde goed löcke,

Naar hand hielper barßel qŭinder da ſpiller hand paa Rŭnne bomen; oc faar hand at wide gŭdz willie naar dechelen dandzer paa Rŭnne bomen; men for ingen deel wille ſige at faa gŭderniß Swar anderlediß end naar dechelen dandzer Ret om med ſolen; paa lige maade faar hand oc widenſkab hŭorlediß hanß folch lefŭer hieme, naar hand er fra dem, ſaa oc at faa widenſkab hŭor andre folch lefŭer, ſiger oc at hanß `ſön´ Chriſtopher Kand talle med ſteen oc der faa wide hŭad hand ſpör effter, tj hand haf(ŭe)r gaaed wild oc gal da hand lærde, oc at Chriſtŭß haf(ŭe)r forbödet baade ham oc hanß ſön at de ei maa giöre ont, ſagde oc at hanß Sön Chriſtopher fick af en Steen at wide det ſleme weir Ao 86. da de mange folch blef her öſter, hŭor fore hand forböd at ingen ma[a]tte Roe dend dag, men ſom ingen wille adlÿde ham, ia iche hanß egen broder, da blef de oc borte; End ſagd[e] hand, at i det hand oplöfter Rŭnne bomen höit i weiret, eller hanß Sön Chriſtopher löfter Stenen höit i weiret, da faar de Swar; lige ſom 2de Menniſker taliß wed hŭer andre;

Om alle diſße gierninger hand ſagde ſig at Kŭnde forrette, wille hand ei til ſtaa, nogen af dem ||: her i landet at hafŭe öfŭet eller brŭgt, oc der for protesterede paa ſin ŭ-ſkÿldighed oc at intet ont haf(ŭe)r forrettet, eller nogen Kand Klage at hand nogen Menniſker haf(ŭe)r giort ont i Ringeſte Maader; der hoß paa til ſpörgelße ſagde, at hand iche haf(ŭe)r forſoret gŭd i himelen eller ſin Chriſtendom, men naar hand til bad de afmalede gŭder, meente hand med dem gŭd i himelen, oc effterdj hand fornehmer at det er öfrigheden imod at hand brŭger Rŭnne bomen, wil hand dend nŭ forlade, oc lige ſom andre folch tro paa gŭd i himelen,

Denne Sag er ſaa her wed til i Morgen opsat,

Dend 10 Febr(ŭarij) Er Retten atter betient ŭdj Waſöe med det laŭgret i gaar war til ſtede, ofŭer werend hans welb(iŭrdighed) ambtmanden, Jtem ŭnder Fogden, Finne lenßmanden, oc andre flere got folch;

Jndbemte Anderß Poŭelßen blef fremkaldet, oc paa til ſpörgel[ſe] Swaret, at da hand lærde Rŭnne bomens Kŭnſt af ſin Moder ſkeede det af aarſage, hand wille wide hŭor folch lef(ŭe)r langt fra, om De hafŭer goed löche, hand der om ſpörger effter, om Reißendiß folch ſkal hafŭe goed löche, at wille hielpe folch naar de war i nöed oc wed ſame Kŭnſt wille giöre got, hŭilchet hanß Moder ſagde at Slig Kŭnſt ſkŭlle hŭn lære han(nem), men hand ſelf iche begierede at wille lære, ÿdermere blef hand om adſkilligt til ſpŭrt hŭor wed hand alt til ſtod dend forige bekiendelße, oc dend iche udj noget forandrede, ei heller wille widere om ſit wæßen bekiende end det at were en Kŭnſt oc ſpil hŭor wed hand intet ŭnt haf(ŭe)r forretted;

Her ŭdjnden blef Saalediß a[f]ſ[k]eediget,

Efter flittig Examen oc ofŭer weielſe om denne Sags Beſkaffenhed, ſaa oc af Anderß Poŭelßens witlöftige bekiendelße erfaris hŭorledis hans paaraabende Figŭrers lignelßer paa Rŭnne bomen, hannem wed Fandens Jndſkÿdelser indbilde de gierninger oc tegn hand ſpörger oc ſöger efter, ſom efter hans tale hender oc wederfaris, hŭilchen hans Kŭnſt, hand beretter at hafŭe lært af ſin Moder, ſaa wel ſom af en anden find ŭdj ſin ŭngdom; oc er hans Kŭnſt oc gierning wed Rŭnne bomen efter hans tilſtand fornehmelig dette, At hand wed det billede ilmaris ſom er Storm, Kand gŭd giöre at det ſkal indeholde ſit ŭnde oc Sleme weir, naar hand der om ſpiller oc beder gŭd, item at det `Kand´ ſkal giöre ŭnt weir til at beſkadige ſkibe oc baader; det billede diermis ſom er Thorden Kand ligeledis indeholde oc til bage hente Regn oc flo weir naar det brŭßer, oc der om bedis; Wed det dÿr Gvodde ſom er en wild Reens lignelße, Kand gŭd forſkaffe goed löche til at ſkÿde wilde dÿr; Wed dend Rŭnde Sirchel ſom er Solen, oc hand Kalder peive, Kand erlangiß got weir oc ſolſkin helſt naar Reenßdÿrene wil Kalfŭe, oc Korn oc höe ſkal woxe;

Det billede Jŭmal barn, ſom ſkal were gŭds Sön, Kand löße folch af deris Sÿnder, Det billede jŭmal Etziem, ſom ſkal were gŭd Fader Kand Straffe Sÿnd, Sambt Straffe, oc for ſkaffe naar hand wil, det ſom ombediß; Wed dend afmaling dom Kirch, Kand erholdis Sÿndernis forladelße, Siælens Salighed oc en Chriſtelig död, naar ſame dom Kirch der om til bedid[;]

Det billede Engil, ſom ſkal were dend hellig aand, Kand löße af Sÿnden, Saa Mand blifŭer et nÿt oc Reent Menniſke;

Det billede Maria Kand hielpe barßel qŭinder i deris nöd, oc löße fra Sÿnder, naar hand der om ſpiller; De 3de billeder Jŭlle dags herrer, ſom hand Kalder jŭlle peive herr, naar de holdiß hellige Kand de hielpe, men naar de wanhelligeß Kand gŭd formedelſt detz mißbrŭg ſtraffe; Wed dend Rŭnde ſirchel ſom ſkal were Maanen, oc hand Kalder Manna, Kand hand faa Klar Maanſkin oc got Nat weir, om endſkiönt det er ſkÿachtig weir, naar hand der om ſpiller oc beder gŭd;

Wed Kirchen ŭdj dend 4de Rad, hielper hand de ſÿge, oc de ſom hawer nogen Modgang, hŭor fore hand ſaa wel ſom de der hielpis ofrer til ſame Kirche, woxlÿß, penge oc andet, ſom lefŭeris til Preſten wed dend Kirche hand boer wed, hŭor af hans Malede Kirche hafŭer ſin bemerchning; Ŭdj dend 5te Rad hafŭer hand adſkillige diefle med dend Elſte diewels qŭinde, oc helfŭedis formanende instrumenter af malet, oc i Sær en diefŭel ſom ſkal were ſiŭgdom, hŭilchen hand ſiger Kand dræbe oc döde Menniſker, af hŭilche figŭrer oc lignelser hand mange til beder; End ÿdermere til ſtod Anderß Poŭelßen at hand wed ſin Kŭnſt oc Rŭnne bome, Kand ŭd tage gand, oc ſette dend paa ſame perſon ſom dend förſt ŭd ſat hafŭer, oc der wed mange hawer hiŭlpet, dog iche her i landet, item at Kand Straffe en tÿf ſom Stieler, ſaa hand ſkal Forſwinde oc blifŭe ſaa tör oc Mafŭer ſom et Stöche træ; Kand oc ſkaffe goed löche til Renßdÿr oc beware dem fra Wlfŭer, oc hielpe barßel qŭinder i deris nöd, Saa oc hawe Eidſkab om hŭor folch lefŭer ſom er langt fra; oc for det Sidſte ſagde ſig faa ſŭar af Rŭnne bomen naar hand hart ſpill[e]r om noget oc löfter dend höit op lige ſom naar 2de Menniſker taler til ſamen, oc ſŭarer hin anden; med ÿderligere hanß bekiendelße ſom witlöftigere i achten er indfört, Hŭilcket hanß werch megit Stafwerdig findis, Særlig det hand af maler dend hellig trefoldigheds perſoner, gŭud Fader, Sön oc hellig aand, ſom hand wed ſine beswæringer oc Mißbrŭg ſom gŭd for hannem ſkal for rette oc Kŭndgiöre, ſaa megit growelig wan ærer, for achter, beſpotter oc höit for törner, ſom oc wed Fader wor læßning, oc det hallige Korßes betegnelse ower ſig, oc ower Rŭnne bomen naar hand wil ſpille, ſambt wed dend erindring hand giör ſine billeder i gŭds Sted, om gŭds ſkabte Elementer, ſigende til dennem, dŭ gŭd ſom ſkabte himel oc Jord, Sol oc Maane etc. oc endelig wed det hand afmaler helwede oc dieflene, hŭor om hand intet Særdeelis wil bekiende hŭorledis hand med dem omgaais;

Saadan hanß Store Ŭ-gŭdelighed oc deifle Kŭnſt ſom hand ŭdj ætten af ſin Ŭ-gŭdelige Moder lært hawer, om hind hand ſiger ei hafde dend rette tro til gŭd i himelen ſom andre folch, hŭilchet hand oc bekiender om ſin ene ſön wed Nafn Chriſtopher, ſom hand ſig indbilder oc ſiger, at ſame ſin Sön hafŭer ofte talt wed Chriſtŭß der hafŭer forbödet hannem ſaa wel ſom hans egen Moder at de iche ſkŭlle giöre nogen Menniſke ŭnt, oc at hanß Sön Kand tale wed Steene oc faa sŭar af den lige ſom ſig ſelf af Rŭnne bomen, iem at hanß Sön war wild oc gal da hand lærde, hŭilchet alt er af höi forargelße, helſt paa diſße wit afliggende Steder, hŭor en Stor deel Menniſker gandſke lidet er opliŭſt om dend rette gŭds Kŭndſkab oc dörchelße, af hŭilche en deel naar den(nem) noget hender oc weder faris, langt heller ſpörger Raad hos Saadanne Throldfolch, end indflÿ til gŭd med bön oc paakaldelße, tj war det höit fornöden, at de ofŭer Slig Ŭ-gŭdelighed blef Statŭerit et afſkÿelig Exempel, paa det gŭds Rette paa kaldels Kŭnde fremmiß; Da ſom deſlige gierninger oc afgŭds dörchelße ſom Anders Poŭelßen friwilligen bekiender att hafŭe öfŭet, oc er for faren ŭdj, ei ŭdj loŭgen findiß benefnede, at de der efter Kŭnde afſtraffis, |: hŭor om dog ingen Klager at hand nogen hafŭer beſkadiget paa lif, hilßen eller godzis Miſtelse :| hafŭer hans welb(iŭrdighed) ambtmanden resolverit oc for Raadſom erachtet, effter at ieg med hans wel(bördighed) der om hafŭer Consŭlerit, at denne ſag ſom er en Ŭ-ſedwanlig Casŭs hŭor ŭdj behöfŭis dend höi öfrigheds Swar fra Kiöbenhafn indhentis, hŭorledis der med ſkal forholdiß, oc acten imidlertid beſkrefŭen nedſkichis, ŭdj hŭilchen til Anders Poŭelßen bör were i goed for waring, oc hanß boes laad til ŭnder Fogden of(ŭe)r lefŭeris, ſaa fremt hand ei Kand Stille for ſin perſon oc ſine Midler ſaa nöiachtig borgen ſom ŭnder Fogden effter lowen Kand were for nöid med;

Ŭnder Fogden Olle Anderßen Jndgaf opſkrifft ofŭer Anderß Poŭelßens middel oc formue ſom ermelte ŭnder Fogit tillige med Finne lenßmandenß fŭldmechtig oc 2de laŭgrettißmend Melchior Mathießen oc Jfŭer Gŭnderßen effter hanß Welb(iŭrdighed) Ambtmandens resolŭtion oc d(end) 8 dec(embris) paſsato hafde anteignet, ſom war ham oc hans qŭinde tilhörende, Nembl(ig)

Wog(pŭnd)(march)
2 oxe Reen@ 5 W(og) 10 —〃 —〃 —
4 Semble Reen@ 3 W(og) 12 —〃 —〃 —
2 Reen Kalfŭer 2 —〃 —〃 —
3 fang Kirriß 1 —1 —12 —
1 pŭlch 1 —〃 —〃 —
4 Kieſte baand 1 —〃 —〃 —
4 Waat Reeb 1 —〃 —〃 —
1 lidet g(ame)l[t] tield af qŭene lerrit 1 —〃 —〃 —
2 bomer 1 —〃 —〃 —
1 liden Kobber Kiedel af en Kande ſom er g(ame)l 〃 —2 —〃 —
4 Kiör wad 1 —〃 —〃 —
til ſamen = 32 —〃 —12 —

oc bekrefftede ŭnder Fogden med ermelte 2de Mend her for Retten, at de ei mere hoß ſame find hawe fant, hŭilchet hand oc ſelf Stadfeſted det at were ald hans eiedeeler, tj war ŭnder Fogden der paa tingß winde begierende;

Notes on the translation

A professionally made English transcription of the court proceedings of all the witchcraft trials in Finnmark in the seventeenth century, including this one, can be found in The Witchcraft Trials in Finnmark, Northern Norway, 2010 by Liv Helene Willumsen. The translation is made by Katjana Edwardsen, guided by Willumsen’s scholarly analysis of the source text. This translation captures the meaning of the text well, but I have nonetheless made my own translation here, following the same principles as with the other source texts. This translation is more literal, preserving more of the ambiguities and stylistic features and failings of the original. I use idiomatic translation when that provides a truer representation of the sense, but have avoided paraphrasing merely to achieve a more fluid language, limiting this to what is required in order for the text to be understandable and not much less grammatically correct than the original.

In the Danish of the time there are some words that cannot be consistently translated to the same English word in all instances. On of these is the verb bede, which can mean both ask and pray. With the preposition om it is always ask for; with til it is likewise pray to. When in a compound with the latter, it means worship. Here I have used the term that makes the most sense rather than using objective grammatical criteria. The phrase tro paa literally means believe in, but could also be rendered have faith in or perhaps even worship. Here I have chosen the literal translation in order to avoid confusion with the abovementioned compound word. As usual I translate the compound word Runebomme, here unusually spelled runne bome simply as drum rather than the more literal magic drum. The reason is that frequently repeating an adjectival phrase is much more marked than doing so with a compound word, and would therefore misrepresent the emphasis. Note also that the part of the compound meaning drum is not a commonly used word for a drum in itstelf, and is rarely seen alone, except when closely following the compound form.

When there are obvious omissions in the source text, I have supplied what is missing in square brackets. Punctuation that is not missing is normalised without such indication. Square brackets are also used when I have found brief inline comments necessary. In the second to last paragraph, both kinds are used heavily. This has several omissions of pronouns and prepositions, two instances of using superfluous negation with the word forbid as if it meant demand, and three words that in context implies much more than the corresponding words would do in English.

Sámi words are left untranslated and in the orthography of the source, with one exception. That is a couple of instances where a double a is used. As there was no established orthography for the North Sámi language at the time, this must certainly represent the sound of Danish å which was at the time written with a double a digraph. Retaining the digraph would be misleading, but using å is also foreign both in a Sámi and an English context. I have therefore chosen á, which is used in the modern North Sámi orthography, as a compromise. Norwegian words are on the other hand translated into their English counterparts, even when used almost as a name. Here too, there is one exception. The word gand is of Norwegian origin, but is at this time used exclusively for a form of malicious magic often claimed to me sent out by Sámi practicioners of magic. I have retained this word, and italicised it as if it was a Sámi word, as there is no English term that covers all its connotations. The closest would be spell or hex, but these terms are rather anemic in comparison.

Niels Knag, deputy justiciary of Stavanger court, bailiff and magistrate of Finnmark, proclaims that in the year 1692, on February 9th, a court hearing is held in Vadsø in eastern Finnmark. The court was served by the Norwegian jurors Nils Bastiansen, Rasmus Johansen, Ole Mathisen, Theophelius Andersen, Erik Pedersen, Andreas Nilsen, Ole Olsen and Ole Hansen, and by the Sámi jurors Melchior Mathisen, Iver Gundersen and Ole Olsen. The court was presided by chancery member and governor of Vardøhus county, the noble and excellent Hans Lilienskiold. Likewise present at the court was the deputy bailiff, the honourable Ole Andersen, the Sámi constable Paul Iversen and several other honourable people.

Said deputy bailiff brought before the court a Sámi from Varanger by the name Anders Paulsen, on grounds of having possessed and used the instrument called a magic drum, and thereby performed the evil ungodly art of witchcraft. Said drum was the past December 7th taken from him, and is now presented on the table of the court. The deputy bailiff requested that this same Sámi’s confession about this drum — which he [made] in the presence of hiself, the deputy justiciary Niels Knag and the Sámi constable Paul Iversen who interpreted his words, the past December 8th — should be presented and read for him, whether he would acknowledge it. If he acknowledged it, the deputy bailiff assumed that from this should be discerned his witchcraft and the blaspheming of God’s name, which he reckoned shoud not go unpunished. Said Anders Paulsen’s previously made confession was now at the court read for him, thus:

He claimed to be born in Torne Lappmark in Sweden, and in his adult years having long stayed by the coast both in Nordland and here in Finnmark, all the while paying sea tax, lething and other duties like other Sea Sámis. He also has many married children here in Finnmark, in the west and here in the east, who pays tax solely to his Royal Majesty. One of these in western Finnmark called Christopher he claimed to be a good doctor, although not knowing the doctor craft of the drum, but can speak with stone, and get answers to his questions. He claims to be a short hundred years of age, that is five score years, and to have learnt his proficiency with the drum from his mother in his youth. When he began learning, he was wild and frantic in the first year, but no so frantic that he hurt anyone; and God then promised him that all his life should have good luck; but he said that he did not see God when he received these promises, rather that such thoughts often appeared in his heart when he was learning.

To the recorded confession he replied to some points: He could not recall that his son Christopher could speak with stone, but did not deny that he was indeed a good doctor. He now denied that he was wild and frantic when he was learning, and now claims that he learned his art from a Sámi called Anders in Torne Lappmark; but that his mother went nine years wild and frantic when she was learning, and that she often spoke with God. Also, that he has not made this drum himself, but was given it by Anders Pedersen i Torne Lappmark who taught him, as that Sámi and his mother was of the same faith.

The drum which is now present here, he previously confessed to have made himself, which he now denies; this is very worn from its continual use. It is of pine wood, hollowed like a large round though oblong bowl, and he says that it had no power were it not of pine wood. In its bottom he has carved two oblong holes, and the bowl’s solid wood between the holes is what he holds it by, with the left hand when he plays. On top of this bowl is fastened a prepared hide like on a drum, and this hide is like a drumskin, only of prepared reindeer hide. This instrument he calls a magic drum. At its ends a fox ear hangs, another fox ear, a fox snout and a fox claw, which he says shall be the adornment of the drum. On the skin of this drum he has painted with boiled alder bark, which makes a red colour; first divided it by four lines which makes five rows, and between [sic] each row are the following figures painted, each with its meaning, thus:

In the first row stands, as he now confessed to have made the drum himself:

1[.] [An] image of a person, which he calls Ilmaris, that is storm and ill weather. When he prays to God, then the same shall contain and call back its ill weather. He can also make ill weather, but it is a sin to ask for that.

2. An image of a person, which he calls Diermis, that is thunder. When God is prayed to, Diermis helps when it is flood weather with much rain, then he calls that weather back again. This Diermis does not have any power until God allows him. He now also confessed that Ilmaris can make evil and ill weather to harm ships and boats, but Diermis can make good weather again, and prevent the evil, when he is allowed so by God.

3. An image of a wild reindeer, which he calls Gvodde, that is a wild reindeer. When God is prayed to, then is by it given luck to shoot wild reindeer. When the drum is played, if the ring will not dance to this reindeer, then the one who asks for good luck in shooting will not get any reindeers that time, even if he makes his best effort.

In the second row

1. A round circle with a line through. This he calls Peive, that is the sun. When God is prayed to, then this shall give good sunshine, light air and beautiful weather, especially when the reindeer are calving, [and] when grain and grass are growing; and otherwise give good weather when asked for.

2. An image of a person, which he calls Jumal barn, that is God’s child or God’s son Christ. When he is prayed to, he releases from all sins.

3. An image of a person, which he calls Jumal-Etziem, that is God the father. He punishes all sins, and otherwise helps, provides, arranges and punishes when asked thereof.

4. An image of a church, which he calls Cathedral. This he prays to because he has made it himself, and he claims to receive by it absolution from sins, the blessing of the soul and a Christian death. Whether one dies or lives, this church helps.

5. An image of a person[,] which he calls Angel, that is supposed to be God the holy ghost. When he is prayed to, he releases from all sins, so that one becomes a new and clean person when we will help.

The God that is prayed to, which is repeatedly reported, are the images and figures which he has depicted after the persons in the divinity, which he claims that his mother has taught him.

Furthermore, by each person in all rows a staff is depicted, which he calls Juncher Sabbe or Stur Herr Sabbe, that is prince’s staff or great lord’s staff; as he says [that] just like the lords of the Earth have their staff in their hand, these persons have staves in their hands.

In the 3rd row

1. An image of a person[,] which he calls St Anna, and claims this is the siter of Mary, and is in counsel with Mary when she helps, otherwise this can do nothing except by the will of Mary.

2. An image of a woman which he gives several names: Mary, Jumal Enne, Jumal Ache, that is Mary, the mother of Christ, God’s woman. When she is prayed to, she especially helps women in childbirth. She helps releasing from all sins, and helps and is prayed to just like God.

3. 4. 5. Three images of persons, which he calls Julle peive, Julle herr, that is Yule days, Yule lords who rules the Yule. Oucht Jule Peiv herr, the first Yule day’s lord, gougt Jule peive herr, second Yule day’s lord, Gvolme Jul peive herr, third Yule day’s lord. When somebody desecrates these days, then God shall punish them, but when somebody keeps them properly holy, and the same will ask God for something, then these days are placed before God, and submit that this or that [person] have held those days holy, and that God for this reason will help. He did not confess further about those days.

In the 4th row

1. A round circle, which he calls Manna, that is supposed to be the Moon. When God is prayed to, it shines brightly and gives good weather at night, even though it is heavily overcast weather. He did not confess further.

2. and 3. Two images of men, which he calls olmoug Mane Kirche, that is people going to church; which he regards a mere depiction, just like other people go to church.

4. Is an image of a church which he calls Church, and is supposed to signify the church by which he is dwelling. To this church he claims that both he himself and others sacrifice, both wax candles, money and other things; however, nobody makes sacrifices unless they receive help. This sacrifice they later deliver to the priest of the appropriate church, which this painted one depicts. Also, when somebody is ill or have adversity with reindeer or other ills have befallen somebody, then prayers and promises are made to this church, and when somebody then receives help, the church gets what is promised.

5. An image of a man standing on the other side of the church. This is supposed to be one that comes from the other direction and is going to church.

In the 5th row

1. [An] image of a woman, who is supposed to be the wife of the bound devil, whose name he claims not to know.

2. An image of a person which stands somewhat below this first, which he says is supposed to be a devil who kills people and persons, and is supposed to be disease.

3. An image of a person just by the one mentioned, which he says is supposed to be the devil that is now loose and reigns in Hell and wafts about in the world, which he claims not to have a name for, and that this fled when God bound the other devil (hereafter it is also reported that when God found this, God was wearing iron shoes and trod it into a great marsh[)].

4th Depicted thus ⏙, this he calls Hilvet Tol, that is upposed to be the fire of Hell. That fire burns the souls of people in Hell.

5th Depicted thus Ꝍ, this he calls Hilvet Tarve Giedme, which is supposed to be the tar cauldron of Hell, which boils the souls of people in Hell.

6th Depicted thus ▭, this he calls Hilvet Haufd, that is the grave of Hell, into which are thrown all people that believe in the devil, and God throws them therein.

7th An image of a person[,] who has a line from the neck to a post. This he calls Hvenáles Gvolisis. That is a bound devil in chains, who is supposed to be the devil who was bound when God created the world.

For this drum he has two hammers maide of reindeer horn, which he call Ziárve vetzier. With one of them he steadily beats the drum when he wants to conduct something. Alongside he has a hollow cap made of brass with a brass ring at the top, which he calls Palm. He places this on the drum, as he showed here before the court, and lifts the drum up and down with his hand, turns it now and then, meanwhile beating with the hammer, and he says that with the brass cap he gets to know wheter this or that is true or not.

[He] further confessed, that when he plaus the drum for somebody, and the cap moves against the sun, then the one he plays for has an ill luck; but if it goes so far down that it stands by one of those below the last line in the 5th row, then God is angry with the one he plays for, and the same must pray much to God before the cap will go back again, so God lets him see that he is a sinful person. However, if the cap dances right with the sun, then the one he plays for has good luck.

Following this, he took the drum and demonstrated with instruction how he plays. First [he] crossed himself, then the drum, and read the Paternoster in Carelian [i.e. Finnish], and further started his prayer ætziem, achie, ja barne, ja Engilen, væche don, with further words. This was supposed to be God the father, your mother, and your son and the holy spirit now help; and by this [he] beats on his pictures, and the cap danced up and down, and he beat with the hammer and related to the gods these words: Thou, God, who have created heaven and earth, sun and moon, yea stars, all humans, yea birds, yea all fish and the sea, and confessed his sins, saying: I am a sinful person, old and unworthy, better it is that I die, than that you will not help the one we are asking for. Besides this he claims to promise not to be sinning any more, with further words of worship.

Upon being asked, he said that when gand has been sent into somebody, he is by his gods able to take this gand out and let it enter the one who first sent it out; showed how he does that, plays the drum, [so] that the cap dances around the drum until it comes down to one of the figures in the 5th row, which is one of the devils; the gand then shies away from the one that has it, and into the one that has sent him [i.e. it] out. [He] said that he had helped many in in the Sámi territory in Sweden, but nobody in this country.

About thieves, he said and showed in the same way as about gand, that the cap dances to one of the devils; then he plays so long, that God punishes the thief that has stolen something, so that he dries up and withers, that he becomes like dry wood.

[He] claimed to be able by his prayer to God, when he plays the drum[,] to provide good luck with reindeer, that wolves should not kill them, and also in other things achieve good luck.

When he helps women in childbirth[,] he plays the drum; and he gets to know the will of God when the cap dances on the drum; but would in no way say to get the answer of the gods otherwise than when the cap dances right with the sun. In the same way he gains knowledge [of] how his people are living at home, when he is away from them, so also to gain knowledge [of] where other people live. [He] also says that his son Christopher can speak with stone and there get to know what he asks about, as he has gone wild and frantic when he was learning; and that Christ has forbidden both him and his son that they must not [sic] do evil. [He] also said that his son Christopher got to know from a stone about the ill weather in the year 86 [i.e. 1686], when many people remained [a common euphemism for perished at sea] here in the east [i.e. in the eastern administrative half of Finnmark], wherefore he forbade that nobody [sic] must row [i.e. be at sea] that day; but as noone would obey him, not even his own brother, then they also remained. Further he said that when he lifts the drum high into the air, or his son Christopher lifts the stone high in the air, then they receive answers, just like two persons speak with one another.

Of all these acts he claimed to be able to perform, he would not confess to have done or used here in this country, and therefore protested his innocence and that [he] had done no evil, nor [that] anybody can complain that he has done any person ill in the slightest manner. Further, upon being asked, that hed has not forsworn God in heaven or his Christianity, but when he prayed to his depicted gods, he meant by them God in heaven; and because he realises that the authorities are against his use of the drum, he will now turn away from it, and like other people believe in God in heaven.

This case is then hereby scheduled for tomorrow.

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This source is extraordinary in that it is unusually close to the ultimate source, and we also know the circumstances of the testimony. Unfortunately, it still remains unknowable how much of the imagery that is described in explicit Christian terms was in fact meant to represent Christian concepts adapted into the Sámi belief structure, and how much of it was misrepresented in the forced confession, in an attempt to placate the interrogators. With the drum being so different from any other surviving or documented ones, there are no clear parallels to offer supporting or alternative explanations.