Text and photo Laila Duran ©
In a review on my first book about folk costumes, a journalist wrote that the women I portray are “weak, fragile and utterly feminine”. I failed to see why this should be such a bad thing considering the life these women where living. Working the pastures, tending animals and constantly producing dairy products, and still look beautiful, is not something to be looked down on. The women, vallkullorna, went to the pastures herding the animals by their own. It was sometimes a very lonely life. These ” weak and fragile” women of the 19th century spent the summers tending the sheep and cows, and only once did they take the herd back to town so they could meet their friend and family; at the Komidsommar, the cow midsummer festival. This is a festival that is still a tradition in Dala-Floda, Dalecarlia.
The famous botanist Carolus Linneaus (Carl von Linné) wrote in his diary from a journey in Dalecarlia in 1734 an entry:” We met many women on the road, they rode astraddle without saddle”.
Packing up the supplies, blankets and tools, and watering the horses before they gather the cows. Taking the animals to the summer pasture is called buffra.
A packsaddle and leather bags are used for transporting the supplies.
Taking a break , enjoying a pipe of tobacco.
Having fun even in a less festive surrounding is not difficult with a good friend and a happy tune. The women sang songs and even developed a way of high pitch singing named kuula that made them able to communicate in the forrest and on hillsides. The kuula singing was also used for calling the herd back to the barn in the evening.
The next generation of kullor from Dala-Floda. You might recognize the young lady to the left as our cover-girl on Scandinavian Folklore vol I.
This summer, if traveling to Dala-Floda, there will be a photo exhibition at the Dala-Floda Värdshus, the Inn at Dala-Floda. On June 30st, I will be there to talk about the books and the journeys I have made in the area. There will also be a concert with Nobel prize winner Tomas Tranströmer`s poems, set to music by Björn Eriksson. For more information please visit:
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