In My Heart

Lapp Clothing Traditions Are Colourful Like the Aurora and the Rainbow.

The gakti

An important part of Lapp clothing is the national costume which is called "gakti" in Lappish language. The costumes in the different areas of Lapland vary quite a lot in the four countries where Lapps are living. From the appearance of the "gakti" you can tell where it is from. The colourful Kautokeino and the Enontekiö "gakti" is probably the best known "gakti" with its broad hem ribbons and the high hat. Sami costumes from Finnish Lapland The "gakti" represents one of the most important symbols of the Lapps. Thus it's an important part of Lapp clothing traditions.

Traditionally the design and decorations could tell what part of Lapland you came from. It could tell what family you were from and even whether you were married or not. There is no difference in "gaktis" for children and adults.

In many parts of Lapland the "gaktis" are in variations of blue cloth. But other colours can be used. The cloths can be wool or cotton or modern synthetic fabrics. The lenght of the "gakti" vary a lot. Some prefer short ones while others like the longer type. The hem of for instance the Tana female "gakti" can be up to 15 metres.

Generally speaking the male "gakti" of the different areas have the same colours as the female "gakti".

The hat

A hat belongs to the "gakti". The hats vary a lot throughout Lapland. But as in the picture above, many men don't always use the hat. Women almost use their hats more often.

The shawl

Women use triangular silk shawls with fringes. Men use long silk or cotton scarves.


Women often use many big brooches to fasten the shawl with.


Women use belts for their "gaktis". But it's not unusual to see women without belts. The female belts are woven on a small handheld loom made from bone. The traditional belts have patterns in red, white and blue. Nowadays you'll also see female belts made from leather. Men always use belts with their "gaktis"


Reindeer skin has always been widely used for Lapp clothing. It is used for the traditional Lapp footwear, both for summer and winter footwear. Traditional Lapp winter footwear The winter footwear is like a moccasin made of reindeer skin with fur outside. See picture to the left. Traditionally they were stuffed with dry grass for keeping warmth. This grass grows in wetlands and is treated in a special way to get pliable. The summer moccasins are made from reindeer skin with the fur taken away. Male and female footwearThe summer moccasins can also be made from ox or seal skin.


Both for winter and summer footwear tha Lapps use woven ribbons in colourful patterns. In the picture to the left you see the footwear ribbons. The patterns of these ribbons vary from area to area.


Men use regular, black trousers together with the ”gakti”. But often you’ll notice men using skin trousers.. Sami woman in her pesk

'The pesk'

is an overcoat made from reindeer skin with the fur outside. Traditionally this was an important part of Lapp clothing in winter. The pesk has a tremendous insulating capacity. The picture to the left shows a Lapp mayor in her white pesk. ”The pesk” is made from reindeer calf skin.

'The Lukka'

is another overcoat and is formed like a tunic. It can be used over the ”gakti” or the ”pesk”. Both sexes use it.

Read more about Lapp clothing and the "gakti". (Before you click the link, please observe that the Swedish word for 'gakti' is 'kolt')

Back to Lapp culture article.

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Where the Reindeer Roam

One People Living In Four Nations

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