Bear claw amulet (SU6155:21), Khanty-Mansi, Siberia. Photo: Markku Haverinen/Finnish Heritage Agency.

Finno-Ugric collections

Material cultural heritage of our language family members from over a hundred-year period.

A bear-claw amulet from Siberia, Udmurt bast shoes from Central Russia, a 'sorokka' or a wife’s headdress from Vuokkiniemi – the National Museum’s Finno-Ugric collection comprises over 14,000 objects.

The majority of the collection’s artefacts were collected during expeditions between 1893 and 1927, the heyday of Finnish national romanticism. In order to boost the national spirit, a large number of artefacts were collected from Finno-Ugric peoples.

When Finland gained its independence and the eastern border became closed, the collection work in the Soviet Union dwindled. This work did not recommence until the 1980s, but the reasons behind it had changed. Field work trips to Russia documented the modern-day lives of the Mari, Udmurt, Mordvin, Khanty and Mansi, which have been greatly influenced by social and economic changes, as well as problems in people’s everyday lives and livelihood.

Digitalising the Finno-Ugric collection has been actively promoted, and nearly half of the artefacts (about 7,000) can be found in the Finna service. Estonian textiles, in particular, have prompted a great interest in recent years in researchers and handicraft enthusiasts on both sides of the Gulf of Finland.

Additional information:

Anna-Mari Immonen, tel. +358 (0) 295 33 6433, anna-mari.immonen@kansallismuseo.fi

  • Finno-Ugric peoples, Russia