Emilie Demant Hatt

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Emilie Demant Hatt
Born (1873-01-21)January 21, 1873
Selde, in northern Jutland, Denmark
Died December 4, 1958(1958-12-04) (aged 85)
Occupation Painter, writer, ethnographer
Notable works "With the Lapps in the High Mountains"

Emilie Demant Hatt (sometimes Emilie Demant-Hatt, or Emilie Demant; née Emilie Demant Hansen) (21 January 1873 - 4 December 1958) was a Danish artist, writer, and ethnographer. Her area and of interest and expertise was the culture and way of life of the Sami people.

Early years[edit]

Emilie Demant Hansen was born in 1873 to a merchant's family in Selde, by the Limfjord in northern Jutland, Denmark. From the age of fourteen to seventeen she had a romantic relationship with Carl Nielsen whom she met in 1887 in Selde. Expecting to become engaged, Nielsen had a psychological crisis over their relationship. Nielsen was living at the time with Emilie's uncle and aunt in Copenhagen. Emilie Demant Hatt went on to preserve several original early music manuscripts of Nielsen's.[1]

From 1898 to 1906, she studied painting and drawing in Copenhagen with Emilie Mundt and Marie Luplau, at the Women's Academy of Art,[2] a school within the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.[3]

While an art student, she changed her last name to Demant. In 1904, Demant and her sister took a train trip to northern Scandinavia. It was here on the iron ore train in Swedish Lapland that they met a Sami wolf hunter, Johan Turi (1854–1936).[4] The encounter made had a dramatic effect on Demant who was very interested in Sami culture and their way of life. While relying on an interpreter, Turi told Demant that he wanted to write a book about "Lapps," while Demant stated, “I have always wanted to be a nomad.”[2] Demant spent the next several years learning the Sami language at the University of Copenhagen with the linguist Vilhelm Thomsen[5] while continuing her painting studies.


In 1907, she returned to northern Scandinavia and lived in a Sami siida in the Swedish mountains outside Kiruna with Sari and Aslak Turi, Johan Turi's brother. She migrated with them and other Sami in the winter and spring of 1907 and 1908, to Jukkasjärvi[6] and from Karesuando to Tromsdalen, where she spent the summer of 1908. Though untrained as an ethnographer, she kept a journal, took photographs, and sketched and painted what she saw. While male anthropologists had visited this area previously, Demant was the first woman to have lived so closely with the Sámi.[5] Demant was also the first investigator to discover the Sami mothers perform infant head moulding.[7]

In the fall of 1908, Demant spent 6–8 weeks with Johan Turi in a mountain cabin where she assisted Turi with his book Muitalus sámiid birra ("The Book of Lapps"). She took the notebooks in which Turi had written his book in Sami back with her to Denmark. She then transcribed the text, translated it into Danish, and organized it. She was assisted by Anders Pedersen and Vilhelm Thomsen. The book was funded by the Swedish mining director, Hjalmar Lundbohm. Bogen om lapperne ("Johan Turi’s Book of Lapland") was published in 1910 in a bilingual Sami-Danish edition in 1910, and in 1931 as an English language edition.

Demant made another ethnographic visit to Sweden in 1910, where she lived in Glen with the South Sami couple Marta and Nils Nilsson.In 1913, she published Med lapperne i højfjeldet (translation: "With the Lapps in the High Mountains"), an account of Sami customs based on her one-year nomadic travels in 1907-08.[2]

Demant Hatt painted all her life and exhibited her works at art exhibitions.[8] She wrote additional works about the Sami and produced a series of paintings focused on Lapland. The collection is located at Stockholm's Nordic Museum. Other Demant-Hatt paintings are located at the Skive Museum of Art.[9] A substantial part of the Sami costume collection in the National Museum of Denmark's Ethnography Department was collected by Dement Hatt during the period of 1915-1924.[10]

In 1915, she was awarded the Barnard Medal Award.[11] She was awarded the 1940 Arthur Hazelius medal in Stockholm for her Sami research. She was a member of the Geographical Society of Finland.

Personal life[edit]

Demant had a close relationship and friendship with the Swedish geologist and chemist Hjalmar Lundbohm whom she met in Jukkasjärvi in 1907. Her artist friends were Christine Swane and Olga Lau, with whom she attended the Royal Academy of Art.

In September 1911, she married Aage Gudmund Hatt,[12] a professor of cultural geography at the University of Copenhagen.

Emilie Demant Hatt wrote her autobiography, Foraarsbølger ("Spring Torrents") 1949. On her death in 1958, the manuscript was submitted to the Royal Danish Library and was subject to a 25-year rule. It was forgotten until 2002, when Johan Fellow discovered in the archives. It was published in 2002.[1]

Partial works[edit]

  • (1913), Med Lapperne i høfjeldet (Danish language)
  • (1918), Die lappländischen Nomaden in Skandinavien
  • (1920), Lappish Texts written by Johan Turi and Per Turi. With the cooperation of K. D. Wiklund, edited by Emilie Demant-Hatt (English language)
  • (1922), Ved Ilden : eventyr og historier fra Lapland (Danish language)
  • (2002), Foraarsbølger: erindringer om Carl Nielsen (Danish language)
  • (2013), With the Lapps in the High Mountains: A Woman Among the Sami 1907-8. Translation from Danish to English of 'Med lapperne i høfjeldet' by Barbara Sjoholm


  1. ^ a b Fellow, John (March 2003). "Torrents of spring – Carl Nielsen's missing years". Nordic Sounds. fellow.dk. 1. 
  2. ^ a b c "Emilie Demant Hatt". barbarasjoholm.com. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  3. ^ National Research Council (U.S.); Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (1938). International directory of anthropologists. Current anthropology resource series. National Academies. p. 142. 
  4. ^ Kingsley, John Donald (2005). The Antioch Review. 63: 252 https://books.google.com/books?id=wfkDAAAAYAAJ&q=Emilie+Demant+lapp&dq=Emilie+Demant+lapp.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b Sjoholm, Barbara (July–August 2008). "With the Lapps in the High Mountains". Orion magazine. Great Barrington, MA, USA. 
  6. ^ Hansegård, Nils Erik (1967). Recent Finnish loanwords in Jukkasjärvi Lappish. Studia Uralica et Altaica Upsaliensia. 3 (Digitized May 14, 2008 ed.). Almqvist och Wiksell. p. 46. 
  7. ^ Hatt, Gudmund (1915). "Artificial Moulding of the Infant's Head among the Scandinavian Lapps". American Anthropologist. American Anthropological Association. 17: 245–256. doi:10.1525/aa.1915.17.2.02a00030. 
  8. ^ Kuutma, Kristin (2006). Folklore Fellows, ed. Collaborative representations: interpreting the creation of a Sámi ethnography and a Seto epic, Issue 289. Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia. p. 86. 
  9. ^ "The collection". skivekunstmuseum.dk. Archived from the original on 22 February 2006. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  10. ^ Gilberg, Rolf (2009). "Eurasian costumes". In Anne Lisbeth Schmidt & Karen Brynjolf Pedersen. Skin Clothing from the North: Abstracts from the seminar held at the National Museum of Denmark, November 26–27, 2009 (PDF). The National Museum of Denmark. p. 36. ISBN 978-87-7602-134-4. 
  11. ^ Catalogue (Digitized Dec 18, 2008 ed.). Columbia College. 1915. p. 497. 
  12. ^ Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1910 (1910). Secretary's third report (Digitized Jun 4, 2008 ed.). Crimson Printing Co. p. 375. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Kuutma, K. (January 1, 2003). "Collaborative Ethnography Before Its Time: Johan Turi and Emilie Demant Hatt". Scandinavian Studies : Publication of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study, 75, 2, 165.
  • Sjoholm, Barbara. "The Autumn Migration," excerpt translated from Danish to English from Emilie Demant Hatt's "With the Lapps in the High Mountains" in Natural Bridge (Fall, 2008) .
  • Sjoholm, Barbara. Excerpts translated from Danish to English from Emilie Demant Hatt's "With the Lapps in the High Mountains" in The Antioch Review (Spring, 2008).
  • Sjoholm, Barbara. Excerpts translated from Danish to English from "With the Lapps in the High Mountains" by Emilie Demant Hatt in Two Lines XIV (Winter, 2007).
  • Sjoholm, Barbara. (Fall 2010). "How Muittalus Samid Birra was Created" in Scandinavian Studies: Publication of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study, 82, 3, 313.
  • Sjoholm, Barbara. (Fall 2012). "Remapping the Tourist Road" in Harvard Review 42.