Lofoten Coffin

Lofoten coffin was the Lofoten fishermen’s “suitcase”, where they brought everything they needed for the fishing season. The fishermen brought two coffins to Lofoten ? one for food, and one for clothes and bedding.

What was to be in the coffin was mostly produced on the fishermen’s homestead, and the work was done by the women. It was a struggle to finish the Lofoten chests for the cod season, especially when you look at everything that was supposed to be inside. In the clothing chests there were often several shifts of wool shirts, underpants, mid-shirts, hoser, stockings, sea boot remains, sea boots, leather hat, top hat, neck mask, ordinary vest, hunter vest, wading clothes, outer shirt, sea mittens, bus rolls, Sunday clothes (suit and shirt), later also oil sheath, and more. In addition, beds, so-called Lofotrye, were woven wool blankets that the fishermen used as a duvet in the fisherman’s cabin and on board the boat during the voyage. Some of these products had to be bought by fishermen if time was not sufficient at home, or they could not be made in the home.

Lofoten coffin at display at Bø Museum.
Lofoten coffin at Bø Museum.

In the food chest you found different types of cheese, butter, flatbread and ordinary bread, different types of flour and grain, different types of salted, cured or dried meat, sauce acid, coffee, lefser, syrup, and possibly tobacco. Several of these goods were bought in the fishing villages in the general store.

Lofoten coffins at Norwegian fishing village museum.

Lofotkista was a high priority in the fish farmer’s household, and much of the annual wheel of the fisherman farmer and the fisherman’s farmer’s wife was to prepare for the fishing. Much of the family’s food production in the form of both agriculture and livestock, and textile production with wool, leather and other textiles, was used in the Lofoten chest.

It is often said that it took around 400 hours to equip a fisherman with the minimum requirement of clothing needed. In the years when around 30,000 fishermen participated in the Lofoten fishery, at least 12 million women’s working hours were spent so that the men could get out to sea.

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Lofotkista is part of this week’s object 2024 – a collaboration project between Museum Nord, Árran Lule Sami Center, Helgeland Museum, Nordland Museum and Narvik War Museum. Read more about this week’s object here.

More Lofoten chests

Sealskin chest

Sealskin chest for fisheries in Lofoten. The chest is part of the collection of the Fygle Museum.

Cylindrical leather chest

Cylindrical leather chest with lid. Used during the Lofoten fishery.

Read more about the Lofoten fishery:

History of Lofoten

Lofoten’s history is a story about fish. The population has harvested resources from the sea all year round, while many have also run small farms. But it is the seasonal fishing for skrei that has had the greatest impact on life here along the coast.

All “skrei” is cod, but not all cod is “skrei”

All skrei is cod, but not all cod is skrei. What exactly is skrei?

Skrei Fisheries in Lofoten

Skreifisket in Lofoten dates back to the Stone Age. In prehistoric times, fishermen also came from settlements far away from the Lofoten Sea, to participate in the rich fishing and to bring stockfish home.

SKREI Stories: A HISTORY OF CONNECTEDNESS

Visit our online exhibition about the past, the present and the future of the Atlantic Cod.

Fishing and sea capture in the viking age

Dissemination text on fishing and sea hunting in the Viking Age.