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The meaning of «joik»

A joik or yoik (anglicised, where the latter spelling in English conforms with the pronunciation; also named luohti, vuolle, vuelie, or juoiggus in the Sámi languages) is a traditional form of song in Sámi music performed by the Sámi people of Sapmi in Northern Europe. A performer of joik is called a joikaaja (in Finnish), a joiker (in Norwegian, and anglicised) or jojkare (in Swedish). Originally, joik referred to only one of several Sami singing styles, but in English the word is often used to refer to all types of traditional Sami singing. As an art form, each joik is meant to reflect or evoke a person, animal, or place.[citation needed].

The sound of joik is comparable to the traditional chanting of some Native American cultures.[1] Joik shares some features with the shamanistic cultures of Siberia, which mimic the sounds of nature.[citation needed]

As the Sami culture had no written language in the past, the origins of joik are not documented. According to oral traditions, the fairies and elves of the arctic lands gave joiks to the Sámi People. Just Qvigstad, who recorded the Sami oral tradition, has documented this legend in several works.[2] Music researchers believe joik is one of the oldest continuous musical traditions in Europe.[3]

During the Christianization of the Sami, joiking was condemned as sinful. The assimilation policies (Norwegianization and similar) and the views of churches and ecclesiastical movements on joiking as sin have played important roles in its devaluation. One of the reasons that joiking was controversial may be its association with noaidi (Sámi shamans) and pre-Christian mythology rituals,[4] with joiking said to resemble magic spells.[5] In the 1950s, it was forbidden to use joiking in Sami area schools[clarification needed]. In 2014, a parish council discussed "if they should implement a total ban against music other than [church] hymns in the churches in Kautokeino and Maze. The proposal was shot down, but many still wonder why joiking in church is such a controversial issue".[4]

Despite this suppression, joiking was strongly rooted in the culture and its tradition was maintained. Joiking is still practiced and is used as a source of inspiration. Recently[when?], joiks are sung in two different styles: a traditional style, known as the "mumbling" style; and a modern style sung mostly by young people, and used as an element in contemporary Sami music.[citation needed]

The joik is a unique form of cultural expression for the Sami people in Sápmi.[6] This type of song can be deeply personal or spiritual in nature, often dedicated to a human being, an animal, or a landscape as a personal signature.[3] Improvisation is not unusual. Each joik is meant to reflect a person or place. The Sami verb for presenting a joik (e.g. Northern Sami juoigat) is a transitive verb, which is often interpreted as indicating that a joik is not a song about the person or place, but that the joiker is attempting to evoke or depict that person or place through song – one joiks one's friend, not about one's friend (similarly to how one doesn't paint or depict about a flower, but depicts the flower itself).[citation needed]

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