Wisdom and Folly: Norwegian Pictorial Textiles

snap-from-haliThis beautifully written and illustrated article on Norwegian billedvev (tapestry) by Jo Nilsson is from the January 1998 issue of HALI Magazine, and reprinted with the permission of the publishers. THANK YOU, HALI Magazine.

The author discusses Norwegian billedvev within the context of European tapestry development, the looms used, and the popular images depicted on the tapestries.  She adds interesting cultural history; for example, she discusses the use of tapestries as coverlets for the bridal bed.

“Troels-Lund’s studies of daily life in the Nordic countries during the 16th century provide us with detailed information about the bridal custom known as “mounting the bed,” in which newlyweds were required to lie on the bridal bed while a speaker delivered a lengthy talk.  The couple would generally lie down fully clad in the bed and draw the coverlet over themselves while the wedding assembly watched.  By the 17th century the practice was modified in many areas, with the couple sitting on the bed while a guest, relative or priest spoke about the ‘Flemish’ coverlet draped over it; presumably the tapestry had a Biblical theme.”

Apparently some Norwegian wives didn’t say, “Kjæreste, pass på teppet (Sweetheart, watch out for the coverlet),” when their husbands laid down for a nap.  Nilsson wrote, “A textile restorer at Maihaugen Museum in Lillehammer noticed worn areas in the same places on many coverlets and suggested that they were caused by husbands taking midday naps on top of the coverlet while wearing knives on their belts.  The coverlets were probably placed on the bed during the day and removed at night.”

Again, we can enjoy the article thanks to the reprint permission from HALI Magazine.

Malin Lonnberg, Assistant Editor at HALI, wrote, “Last year we digitised our whole archive of back issues, meaning that subscribers can now access what we call the HALI Archive online. All the back issues are searchable, which is handy for those with specific textile interests (say Scandinavian textiles). HALI subscribers now get full digital access to the HALI Archive, featuring every HALI since 1978. For only £60/€88/$120, subscribers receive four printed issues of HALI a year and fully searchable access to over 189 editions.  See www.hali.com for more information.”

Download pdf here.

Note: the file is large, but needs to be, for the best representation of the beautiful photographs. Also, the print is quite small.  The original is larger than standard 8-1/2 x 11 paper, so the article is reduced in scale.

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