Home / News / Aili Mattus: An Inari Sámi Doll-Maker

Aili Mattus: An Inari Sámi Doll-Maker

Sep 09, 2016 11:32 AM

On 12 September 2016, Siida will open a temporary exhibition that will be available for the public until 31 March 2017. The exhibition deals with the life and handicrafts of Aili Mattus, an Inari Sámi craftsmaker. Through the exhibition Aili and the Dolls, the Sámi Museum Siida wants to spotlight the skill of a Sámi woman and women in general.

Nili-Aili (Nuoran-Juhanin Aili, Aili Mattus) was known as an outgoing and talented craftsmaker who liked to sing. But it was her dolls that made her famous. Now, at the Aili and the Dolls exhibition of the Sámi Museum, her dolls are shown to a wider audience for the first time.

– We at the Museum have wanted to honour Aili Mattus, a talented and professional craftsmaker, through a whole exhibition of her dolls and other handicrafts. At the same time, we can also spotlight the Sámi woman, curator Áile Aikio describes the approach to the exhibition.

In particular, both the clothes and the accessories of Aili’s dolls abound in detail, and Aili made herself not just the clothes but also the actual dolls. Aili’s skill is especially manifested in the vivid faces of the dolls. Their look was not a coincidence: Aili whittled most of the dolls so that they resembled herself and her husband. If the doll was a gift, Aili tried to make it resemble the one who received the present.

The Aili and the Dolls exhibition presents dolls from the collections of the Sámi Museum Siida, but also dolls and other handicrafts that have been borrowed from private people. Indeed, without the local Inari Sámi community this exhibition would not have been possible.

– When planning the exhibition, we received invaluable help, advice and information from people who knew Aili. They helped us to get a picture of Aili as a person, and, thanks to them, we can present such a wide variety of Aili’s handicrafts, Aikio praises.

Aili’s skill was not restricted to making dolls: she could clothe a person from head to toe. In addition to dolls, the exhibition introduces the audience to the Inari Sámi clothing tradition. It presents both Sámi clothes sewn by Aili and a couple clad in newer Inari Sámi clothes. The Sámi clothes tell about the versatile skill of Aili as a craftsmaker, but they also make it possible to compare the clothing of the dolls with people’s Inari Sámi clothing.

The graphic design of the Aili and the Dolls exhibition has been created by Tytti Bräysy (Paarma Design). The backgrounds of the showcases consist of landscape photos of Inari taken by Bräysy herself. Through these sceneries, the dolls have been returned home, back to Aili’s home region.

The Aili and the Dolls exhibition is available for the public at the Sámi Museum Siida from 12 September 2016 to 31 March 2017.

More information: Curator Áile Aikio, aile.aikio@samimuseum.fi, +358 (0)40 640 2606

Sámi museum, Siida, Inarintie 46, FI-99870 Inari, tel. +358 (0)400 898 212, siida@samimuseum.fi, www.siida.fi

Document Actions



Sámi Museum
Phone +358 (0)400 898 212

Nature Centre, Metsähallitus
Phone +358 (0)206 39 7740