Women called cows home

Cows grazing on a mountain

For centuries, women in Sweden called their cows home with a sound called kulning. Now, kulning has been embraced by many, including universities as a form of art. But from medieval times until the mid-20th century, the sound could be heard every summer, ringing across the mountains. Reaching up to 125 decibels, kulning can be heard over 5 km (1 mi) away. Since cattle tend to wander off, they needed to be able to hear the herdswomen calling them.

It was traditionally women who went up the mountains with the herd in the summer. They each lived in a small settlement, tending the animals. They milked the cows, made cheese and spent hours doing all the rest, like cooking, knitting, mending, making brooms, etc. It was hard work, but the women also had a lot of freedom without men around. They could do whatever they wanted up there.

Kulning not only helped the women communicate with their cows; it was also used to communicate with each other. If someone's cow wandered off and another woman found it, she'd call out a special melody that let others know the cow had been found. It created a community among isolated women on the mountains.

What is kulning? How was it used? Do Homework
How would it feel to live on a mountain for 6 months, taking care of cattle, working 16-hour days, all by yourself? Do Homework
For centuries, kulning skills were passed down from generation to generation orally. Now it's taught in classrooms, since very few women use it anymore. Do you think traditions that are no longer necessary should be kept alive? Why or why not? Do Homework
Discuss the freedom these women experienced, living away from men. What was their life like the rest of the year? Do Homework
How much freedom do women have in your country today? Do Homework