The arch-beamed turf house – bealljegoahti

The traditional Sami dwelling is called goahti, and is constructed from wood, bark and turf. The oldest kind is the arch-beamed goahti, called bealljegoahti in Sami. It consists of an inner framework of two sets of curved wooden beams, called bealljek. To get these curved rafters you have to look for birch growing on hillsides. The trees here bend near the root to be able to grow straight up. It is the bottom and thickest part of the birch that makes the arch.

In opposition to the later stave goahti, which had a quadrangular floor, the arch-beam goahti had almost completely round flooring. In the middle there was a stone ringed fire place, called árran in Sami.

Written sources from the 1700s explain how the goahti was divided into nine areas or small rooms. The division was marked by logs or stones. The main division went straight across from the entrance to the back wall. In the middle of this section was the fire place. On both sides of the door were logs that went to the fire place. The room between the door and the fire place was called uksa, which mean door or exit in Sami. From the fire place and back towards the back wall there were also two wooden logs. This room was called boaššu, and was a holy area. In addition the rooms on either side of the fire place could be divided into several sections where people slept, ate and had their tasks.

Different female goddesses lived in uksa, boaššu and árran. There were also rules that told where different family members and guests should stay in the dwelling.

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