Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Vikings/Viking Art

The Mammen Style(ab. 950-1000)
The Mammen axe

The Mammen style animal was out of that of the Jellinge style. The two animals can be difficult to tell apart, and during the transitional period it would be a mistake to separate them. The animals' body becomes gradually more substantial with more naturalistic proportions. Its spiral hip joints are increased in size. On the slender body of the Jellinge style animal there was no room for more than a single row of bars or beading.

The Mammen style might be dismissed as little more than a transitional phase which links the Jellinge style with the Ringerike style. The Mammen style seem not to have been in fashion for more than a couple of generations. But it is marked in the history of Viking Art in one important respect. In the Broa and Borre style there was no serious interest in the use of plants or of their leaves or tendrils, in the Jellinge style there was a suggestion of stubby tendrils providing decoration to the animals' bodies. In the Mammen style appears for the first time full use of foliate patterns.
During the ninth and tenth centuries foliate patters were commonly used in Western Europe. The acanthus-leaf patterns were reaching Scandinavia from the ninth century. A small amount of imitation was attempted, but it came to very little. In the later tenth century was a step in this new direction -  one side of the Mammen axe, to which the style owes its name, is entirely decorated in a straggly foliate pattern.  This magnificent iron battle-axe was found at Mammen in Jutland. It is inlaid with silver wires on both sides, one with a foliage pattern, the other with a bird. The bird has a spotted body and its wings and tail are drawn out into elongated, curving tendrils. At the top of the axe is a pair of round eyes above a large nose, beneath are moustaches and a spiral-marked beard.

sword-mount , sigtuna, Sweden
The Bamberg casket

The same human mask looks at us from one of the Mammen-style masterpieces: the Bamberg casket. The Mammen style was well suited for carving, which is seen from the walrus-ivory at this casket. Tradition says that this was the jewel box of Kunigunde, the wife of the German Emperor Henry II.

Source: Moesgård Museum, Århus

Next: The Ringerike style, ab. 980-1080

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