In search of bed rugs and boat rya...
My sister and I are planning a trip to Finland this spring in search of our 'roots'. Although I truly am an American mutt, 1/4 of my ancestry is Swedish-Finn...and for reasons I can't explain, I have always had a very strong interest in early Scandinavian textiles.
|Reproduction of a 'proddy' rug that is on display at Stundars Museum in Korsholm, Finland|
I had never heard of a 'proddy' rug before. However, when they started describing this textile that was woven in two sections with a hemp warp, rags for filler and a pile made out of wool fabric strips and wool and cotton yarn, I started to get excited!
|Rag rya that is part of the collection at the Nedreberg Farm near Stryn, Norway|
|Detail of rag rya from Nedreberg Farm|
|Batrya on a bed in a rorbu (fishermans cabin) at the Lofoten Museum in Storvagen, Norway|
|Detail of the front and back of a batrya at the Lofoten Museum.|
|Taatit Rug in the collection of the Shetland Museum|
One of my favorite versions of the batrya dates back to Viking times in Iceland in the form of the 'varafeldur', a woven shawl that was used as currency. The pile in this case was made of locks of the sheeps fleece knotted around the spun wool warp yarns.
|Detail of the 'varafeldur' woven by Elizabeth, Marta and Hildur|
A few years ago Elizabeth Johnston (Shetland) along with Marta Klove Juuhl (Norway) and Hildur Hakonardottir (Iceland) wove a 'varafeldur' in Iceland using the old viking methods on a warp weighted loom. They used the fleece from local Icelandic sheep. The finished varafeldur is a remarkably soft, light weight textile that would keep any fisherman warm.
|Marta Klove Juuhl with woven 'varafeldur'|
Although I didn't have the privilege of seeing this piece woven, I did get to handle the finished piece. This weaving technique is quite rare. The only place I have seen it demonstrated was by the interpretive staff at the Lofotr Borg Viking Museum in the Lofoten Islands in Norway several years ago.
So as I plot 'my version' of our trip to Finland in search of our roots - I guess I'll also have to take a detour to the Ostrobothnian Museum in Vaasa to see the original 'proddy' rug. It would be a shame to just see the reproduction and not the original...I do hope my sister ends up falling in love with these Scandinavian bed rugs like I have!