Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Baldishol Tapestry


I'm grateful to Lene on her blog "The Essence of the Good Life", where I saw a picture of the beautiful Baldishol-tapestry the other day. It is such a fantastic story. Thank you Lene. The picture of the tapestry is in a perfect image on her blog.

The Baldishol is a woven tapestry, and it has been C-14 dated to the period between 1040-1190. The tapestry is 203 cm in lenght and 118 cm in height.The material is wool from the Norwegian sheep spellsau, flax is used in a few places. It is unique of its kind. It is not possible to say where it was made, but it is probably inspired by art from the continental Europe. Stylistically there is a sign of that it might be woven in northern France or in England, but it might also be woven in Norway. The tapestry has motif and stylistic parallels in European and especially French and English art, but there are also similarities to Norwegian medieval art. It might have been woven in a lesser central European workshop, but some provinsial details support the theory that it was woven in Norway. 

Helgøya, Norway
The Baldishol-tapestry from Norway is one of few preserved Romanesque tapestries in Europe and the only of its kind in the world.  It is a fragment of a long frieze, which supposedly represents the twelve months of a year. The preserved part represents April and May. It is made in gobelin(tapestry)- technique by plant-dyed wool in clear red, yellow, green, darkblue and lighter blue. April is represented by a bearded man in a long robe; he stands beside a tree with birds, symbolizing that the birds have arrived. May is represented by a horseman in armour, symbolizing that he can still ride in the field.

detail, the horseman
The name comes from Baldishol old church from the 1600s in Hedemark in Norway, which was demolished in the first half of the 1880s. The tapestry was one of many objects among the materials and furniture which was sold at auction from the old church. A family Kildal from a neighbouring farm bought several of the church objects and kept them at the farm. A relative, Louise Kildal, who visited the family some years later, found among the objects from the church a dirty old rag filled with clay, which had been a footstool for the organ player. He used it  as a protection against draft. Louise took care of the rag, she washed it - and out of this dirty rag came a woven rag in fine colours. She mended it and hang it on the wall in her living room. A museum's director Grosch discovered it and saw to that the tapestry was transferred to the National Museum. The original is now in the National Museum (Kunstindustrimuseum) in Oslo, where it is one of their finest treasures. It has been restored several times, the last time in connection to an exhibition in 2004.

The Baldishol-tapestry is one of the most important and interesting pieces in Nordic, and also in European textile art. It shows a big identity to the Bayeux-tapestry in the motif-processing, but the Bayeux is an embroidery, while the Baldishol is woven. The origin of the tapestry is not known. How it came to the Baldishol church will probably never be cleared up, but all the signs point to that the tapestry followed other church furniture from a church at Hovin on the island Helgøya in 1612. Here was once a king's residence, which more often than any other place had visitors like the Norwegian king and other persons of high descent and great riches.

Baldishol-copy in the White House, Washington.
Baldishol in the White House: 
5000 North American women wanted to give the White House a memory of the Norse-American 100 year's celebration in 1925. They were of the opinion that the Norse-American men had been too dominating in deciding how and what should be celebrated, so they established Norse Centennial Daughters Club. They decided to buy the copy of the Baldishol-tapestry, which had been on an exhibition in Norway in 1925. The exact copy was woven by the Norwegian textile artist Kristi Sekse Meland (1886-1965). She had spun the yarn and dyed it herself with plant dyes. The Norse-American  women paid 1500 dollar for it, and a delegation presented it to president Calvin Coolidge's wife on 8. June 1926. What has happened to this exact copy of the Baldishol-tapestry in the White House is not known.

Store Norske Leksikon, Kunsthistorie; Baldishol in the White House. Blog: The Essence of the Good Life


Teresa Evangeline said...

I just returned from visiting Lene's blog. What a beautiful site and perspective on life she has. I enjoyed seeing a synchronicity of sorts between my post this morning and her thoughts in her header. Thank you so much for pointing me to her place. And a hug and a thank you to you for illuminating this beautiful tapestry.

Thyra said...

Hej Teresa! Yes, Lene has such a beautiful and inspiring blog. And there is music all the time! I'm glad you liked it. She's got perfect pictures. I took them on the net for my post, but I thought people shoould have the opportunity to see her beautiful photos.

As for my post I actually thought the tapestry would be of your interest. You've got some Norwegian roots I remember. I could imagine one of those Norse-American women was one of your ancestors!! `)
Grethe `)

Wanda..... said...

Interesting post, Grethe, I have been following Lene for some time her photos of design and beautiful homes.

Thyra said...

Hej Wanda ! I hope you are well over there on the other side of the big pond! Yes, Lene's blog is so beautiful, and it is a joy to study all her photos of design and interior.
Grethe ´)

Carolyn said...

wow. Thank you for visiting me. I've looked at all of your blogs ... beautiful.

I'm still reading Teresa Evangeline's blog, I found recently and now you.

Beautiful insights...

Thyra said...

Thank you so much Carolyn! and welcome to Thyra. I noticed you on Teresa's blog, and actually I thought much about you in the evening. I'm 79 and I know that growing old is not for sissies, but I'm okay after a turbulent year. I think it's good to be here in blog-ville , there are some fantastic creative people here. I'm glad to meet you, Carolyn.
Grethe ´)

Carolyn said...

79? thank you ;)

Sorry to hear of your turbulent year. I don't want one but know it is inevitable ... that's the pisser.

I catch myself saying --- is this the day that something will happen to cause my having to live on drugs or get cut on or or or ...

I don't do that often... but I do think of it and give myself a swift kick... it's getting harder to kick myself though... old creaky bones... ;)

So nice to meet you and love your name, Grethe'

Thyra said...

Hello Carolyn! I'm okay now, but I don't like to take the medicine.

I don't want to "be wise after the event", if that's how you say it in English! It's useless to think of what could happen, but I'm sure you know that! You can get a brick in your head the next time you go out, and then you'll not have more worries anymore!! I really try to think like that today, and it is very, very difficult!!! and sometimes impossible. My doc says that a big part of my problems are my nerves, and he's right. Do forget the nerves, Carolyn, they make it worse. I see that you're still young and creative.
Nice to meet you. Your name is nice, mine is boring!
Grethe `)

Carolyn said...

Grethe, the nerves. yes. I found a natural product called CALM which reads as its ingredients ... "a highly absorbable proprietary formulation of pH balanced magnesium citrate in ionic form"

It's touted as The Anti-Stress Drink and I drank it when my son was going through a bunch of drama. I couldn't sleep and my anxiety was through the roof!


oh, so cool that you said I'm still young! HAhaa... oh, me.. I love THAT

I hope you have a stellar evening ;)

Thyra said...

Well Carolyn that drink sounds like something effective. I hope you're better now, for it's awful not to be able to sleep !!
My cousin,who was 25 years older than me (!) told me, when I was at your age that I was still young. I now know what she meant. You're young!
A stellar evening, is that an evening with feast and everything? I had a quiet evening all by myself! And this is also something I wouldn't believe if you told me twenty years ago!!
Good health!

Anonymous said...

Ref BALDISHOLRoman Tapestry I think you mean "NORMAN PERIOD" not ROMAN----


Thyra said...

Thank you for telling me. It was actually meant to be Romanesque tapestry. I hadn't noticed, but I have corrected it now.

Grethe ´)