I am inclined to believe that Linneaus was made fun of . . .
It is a well known fact that informants might get tired of the anthropologist’s endless and sometimes in their eyes nonsensical, questions. They then can tell the unhappy researcher what comes to their mind to satisfy him and to amuse themselves. I am inclined to believe that Linnaeus, too, was made fun of, without him being aware of it. After having been in Tjåmotis on his way back to Luleå, he describes, among many other things, the way the Sami kill a reindeer. He then mentions all the useful slaughter products the animal supplies them with. In the end we read: “Everyone throws the testicles away. The penis serves to make a thong to draw the sledges.
Though no comment is given on this, either in the general text commentaries or in the ethnological commentary on Linnaeus’ diary published in 2003, I have my suspicions that Linnaeus here was fooled. Although he told Roberg that he had travelled by sledge, no traces of it are found in the diary. The harness for drawing sledges he saw himself and described, when he was in Lycksele, had a leather thong. Motraye, who did travel by sledge and describes both sledge and harness, never mentions such a thing, talking only about “a trace”/”un trait”. From a publication of Knud Leem from 1767 we know that this thong was made of a strap of cow skin or seal skin, well greased to make it supple.
Nellejet Zorgdrager in Linnaeus as Ethnographer of Sami Culture, TijdSchrift voor Skandinavistiek vol. 29 (2008)