Norsk Folkemuseum (Part One)

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Setesdal Farmstead, (anno 1739) nfm8nfm10
I wore Viking Bling, vintage cross fox fur and a deep red lipstick. nfm6nfm7nfm2nfm4

Made a spontaneous decision to visit Norsk Folkemuseum last weekend (living in Oslo makes it easy to do stuff like this.) Besides, I’m not much of a party lion -getting cultural inspiration is much cooler than clubbing;)  If you have followed my blog for a while you’re probably well aware of my fascination for old buildings, especially wooden ones. I absolutely adore weird, crooked, wood-carved stuff- everything from roots to houses!  What better place to be for a creature like me than an outdoor museum? I mean, how epic is that? Norsk Folkemuseum is the largest museum of cultural history. it has 160 different buildings from rural and urban Norway – from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. Of course – my favorites are the oldest stuff. Twirling in leaves amongst old lofts made me feel so alive, it was spiritual food for my ancient soul…Modern day time-travel is my kind of fun! Unfortunately, I had very little time when I visited so I literally RAN through it while I was shooting pictures like a maniac. Quite the workout, I must say.

Ever been to this glorious place? What’s your favourite part? 
Ps: Moar pictures to come in my next post.

– Sól Geirsdóttir, The Viking Queen

The Viking Ship Museum (part 2)

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Is is possible to be in love with an object? Or rather, in love with a with a ship? I believe I am. I’ve visited this museum countless times, to the point where it’ starting to get… awkward. You see, I’ve stood there in awe – glancing at The Oseberg ship in all its’ glory – my heart pounding heavily – my body trembling with admiration. And… It might just be me, but I think it is noticeable. At least by the guards (lol!) Like I’ve said before, guards “always” follow me around when I stroll through museums. The reason might be that I’m a big goofball with a huge smile. Not the average museum guest, but that one weirdo who is a bit too ‘happy go lucky’.
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This photo was taken outside the museum. Yup… I am clearly in love with the ship. Heh. 

The Oseberg Ship 

“The Oseberg ship was built in western Norway around the year 820. It is made of oak. Each of the strakes overlaps the one below and they are fixed with iron nails. Each side of the ship consists of 12 strakes, or planks. Below the waterline, they are only 2-3 cm thick, which makes the ship’s side very flexible. The two upper strakes are a little thicker. The deck is made of loose pine planks. The mast is also of pine and was between 10 and 13 metres high.

In the year 834, two prosperous women died. The Oseberg ship was pulled ashore and used as a burial ship for the two ladies. A burial chamber was dug right behind the ship’s mast. Inside, the walls were decorated with fantastic woven tapestries and the dead women lay on a raised bed. The women had a number of burial gifts with them. There were personal items such as clothes, shoes and combs, ship’s equipment, kitchen equipment, farm equipment, three ornate sledges and a working sledge, a wagon, five carved animal heads, five beds and two tents. There were fifteen horses, six dogs and two small cows. Investigation of the skeletons showed that the older woman was about 70 to 80 when she died, probably of cancer. The other woman was younger, a little over 50. We do not know what she died of.

Both of them must have held a special position in the community to have been given a grave such as this; were they political or religious leaders? Who was the most prominent person in the grave? Was one a sacrifice, to accompany the other into the kingdom of the dead? Were they related? Where did they come from? The two women from the past remain a mystery, but continued research may tell us more.”

Text:
UIO, Museum of Cultural History,
http://www.khm.uio.no/english/visit-us/viking-ship-museum/exhibitions/oseberg/

Photos: Sól Geirsdóttir – The Viking Queen

The Viking Ship Museum (part 1 of 2)

This is part one of the picture reel from my latest visit to this glorious museum. I hope you enjoy it!
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“There were five rattles in the Oseberg grave. We are not sure what they were used for: perhaps as musical instruments, sleigh bells fitted on the brindle or cult objects to be used in religious rituals or processions.”
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“One of the rattles found in the grave chamber would appear to be of this last variety. The rattle and hook were found fastened to the carved animal head-posts.”
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Detail on the bucket found in the Oseberg mound (ca AD 800). You probably notice the Swastika. In the 1940s, it was misinterpreted by the nazis as a “proof” of white supremacy thoughts among vikings.  According to Kim Hjardar, (historian and writer of “Vikinger i Krig”) The vikings had no racial agenda for their pillaging.
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Animal heads. There are loads of different theories about what they were used for. They might have had ritualistic significance.
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Viking Bling 

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“When the objects in the Oseberg mound were excavated, there were remnants of colours on some of them: Red, reddish brown, black, yellow and grey-white. The most colourful of all the burial gifts were the sledges.”
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“In his diary, archeologist professor G. Gustafson who was in charge of the excavation in 1904 writes about his dilemma. Should the colors or the carvings be given priority? Alum conservation was the best and only method of preserving the shape and carvings of the artefacts. The problem was that alum conservation would also destroy the surface and therefore the colours. Gustafson sacrificed the colours to save the carvings.”
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“What can be done to prevent the artefacts from the Oseberg mound from degrade? Research to conserve the Oseberg find proceeding on three main fronts:
– Elucidating the current condition of the physical and chemical composition of the wood on the artefacts
– Examining wether existing conservation methods can be adapted and used
– Developing completely new conservation methods

This is urgent! The researchers face difficult choices, and their decisions may have terminal consequences:

Should the researchers take action now? Halting the degradation before it goes too far? They are concerned that the existing methods may not be sufficient since there is a lack of knowledge of how current methods last over time. Or wether there are unforeseen problems with them. Should conservation wait until researchers have found better methods? This risks that the artefacts will disintegrate while awaiting new treatment. How long can they wait?”

To those of you who have the opportunity to go and se the Oseberg finds in person: please do so. There is a high probability that it won’t last long due to the degrading.

TEXT: from The Viking Ship Museum, University of Oslo, Norway.
Pictures: Sól Geirsdóttir, The Viking Queen. 

Occupation of the past (Minus Five)

A few weeks ago, I visited the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo again. This time, I went to see the part of their freedom exhibition called “Minus Five – Occupation of the past”. I strongly recommend everyone interested in Viking age and history to pay it a visit.

I have my own reasons for writing this blog post. My photos are not intended for use for any political agenda. If you see any of my photos in any facebook group that do so, well – then they have used my pictures without my consent.
Some people are still using the past to promote hatred and exclude and rank people because of race or religion. I do not want to be associated with these people.

*Edit from 2020: I would like to add that I do not care for extreme views, no matter the ideology, religion, or the “political orientation”. As for the use of my photos in facebook groups – it quickly became impossible to monitor these things. Please understand that if I’m being “silent” about the misuse of my photos, it’s not because I agree with the views of these groups/IG profiles, etc etc. It’s because I don’t have any way of knowing – or it might be that I am facing something that you have NO idea about and simply don’t have the time or energy to get into those wormholes in that particular moment. Silence is not the same as agreeing. I think most people get that, but if you don’t – put it in the context of sexual assault – silence is not consent. Extreme example, but these are extreme times where I see a lot of all-or nothing-thinking on the internet. Which is something else that I don’t care to be associated with. Hope I made myself clear; Don’t try to paint me as something I am not. All I want to do is share my passion for the viking age, for art, and for music. This should go without explanation but here I am, stating it once and for all.*

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All photos by Sól Geirsdóttir,
all texts gathered from the “minus Five Occupation of the past” English guide.
Main texts by Terje Emberland (the Nazi story, Frode Iversen (the alternative story) Additional texts: Davig Vogt, Kathy Elliot
English translation: Fredrik Sundman, Kathy Elliot, Tom Chlitton, Alexandra Sanmark


Nazi germany invaded Norway on the 9th of April 1940. A few months later Vidkun Quisling and his small Nasjonal Samling (National Unification) party came to power in collaboration with the Germans. A Nazi regime, which had no regard for democratic principles or the rule of law, was imposed on the country. The Nazi occupation of Norway lasted five years.

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German eagle from the German war cemetary at Ekeberg, Oslo. Loan from the Arm Forces Museum of Norway

The Nazis’ aim was to transform Norway into a racially pure and ideologically totalitarian state. In order to legitimize their rule, the Nazis set about altering Norway’s perception of its past – even history was to be occupied. Through selective, distorted and falsified depictions of archeological, ethnological and historical evidence, they sought to promote Nazism as an historic inevitability.

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The Swatsika

The Swatsika has been used since prehistoric times for decoration and as a religious symbol. It is simply a decorative element, which has appeared independently in various cultures all over the world. It has been attributed with various meanings; in India it is a symbol of good fortune – the word swastika is derived from the Sanskrift su atsi meaning, “it is good”.

In the latter part of the 19th century, the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann unearthed the remains of ancient Troy. His discoveries sparked new interest in the swastika since he viewed it as a significant Indo-European religious symbol. At the same time, ethnologists became interested in the role of the swastika in Hindu, Buddhist and European traditions.mf1“Buddha bucket” with swastika from the Oseberg Viking ship burial
This beautiful bucket made of yew was found on board the Oseberg Viking Ship, one of the many exclusive grave gifts given to the two women buried on the ship in the year of 834 AD. The bucket was probably made in Ireland and is evidence of the Viking’s overseas contacts. What we do not know is whether the bucket came to Norway as Viking plunder, as a gift or as an item of trade. The little figure of brass and enamel has inspired various interpretations; from a Buddha-like figure to a Celtic warrior.

The swastika as a symbol of good fortune.
In the West, the swastika had been used as a symbol of love and good fortune until the 1930s, when the Nazis made this symbol virtually unusable for others than themselves.
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Offering plate with swastika patterns from bali, Indonesiamf6
Buddha temple figurine from China

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The swastika as a symbol of race

For a long time, people were seen as products of their culture, but in the latter part of the 19th century, a shift took place, when scholars started classifying people according to “natural” physiological and psychological traits. The racial categories introduced by anthropologists now became important for the understanding of people, history and culture.

Anthropologists borrowed linguistic terms such as “Indo-Aryan” and “Indo-Germanic” and thus shaped the image of an ancient white “master race”, the Aryans or Indo-Europeans, who were “creators of culture”. The presence of the swastika in different parts of the world was seen as proof that the supreme Aryan culture had spread across the globe. The search for the origin of this race started in Asia, but this was soon replaced by the idea that the “master race” must have originated in Northern Europe, from where it spread by prehistoric waves of migration, to the south and east.

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The SS saw Norwegians, in particular Norwegian Women as a source of “pure blood”, which could be used to increase the “Nordic racial component” in the German population…

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The Snartemo sword, Hegebostad, Vest-Agder, c. AD 550
This sword with a gold-plated handle somes from a very rich burial dating from the middle of the 6th century. It most likely belonged to a local chieftain with far-reaching contacts both at home and abroad. The Snartemo sword was one of many museum objects which were evacuated to a secret location just before the German occupation.
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Copy of the Snartemo sword. This copy was made in 1942 by the goldsmith J. Tostrup and was presented to Vidkun Quisling in 1943.

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Photo: google
The Celtic cross is often used by right-wing radicals and neo-Nazis, together with a number of other symbols from the Old Norse tradition.

Modern right-wing extremists see the “Germanic” heritage as part of their identity. This is not a result of new archeological or historic research, but a consequence of fabricated “Germanic myths”. Even today, historic facts are concealed and distorted to create an image of the racially pure and noble Germanic ancestors.
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The Germanic myth is used to create a cultural and ethnic collective identity and to exclude others as being inferior. It is also employed to legitimise a social utopia in which some people are destined to rule, while others are to be deprived of their rights, deported or even exterminated.

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A viking helmet from 10th century
Today, the Viking helmet is an iconic symbol of the Viking Age. In fact, only one helmet from the Viking Age survives, the one displayed here from a richly-furnished man’s grave from Gjermundbu in Buskerud.

The universal Viking
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The Viking Age is no longer occupied by the Nazis, nor is it the property of the right-wing extremists. The Vikings and the Old Norse heritage have moved into the public domain.

The Viking Age is an increasingly relevant area of research. New archaeological discoveries in Scandinavia and the rest of the “Viking world” are continuously providing new insights into this turbulent but also innovative era. Researchers are now nuancing the image of the belligerent Vikings: they were also traders, shipbuilders, artisans and cosmopolites.

The popularised Viking has today a universal appeal; these “action heroes” are as popular in Japan as in Norway. The foremost symbols of the Vikings – Viking ships and Viking helmets – are used by oil companies, travel agents, sports teams and pizza parlours, at home and abroad.

The Nazi’s attempt to conquer the past has failed. History has been saved for the present, but the battle is not over. Some people are still using the past to promote hatred and exclude and rank people because of race or religion.

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Dragonhead replica
This curious “dragonhead” was probably made in the early 1930’s in the woodcarver’s workshop at the Viking Ship Museum. Based on more fantasy than fact, it was never approved by Norwegian archaeologists. A.W. Brøgger, Professor and Museum Director (1915-1949) disliked it so much that he ordered it to be placed in storage in perpetuity.

Others were more enthusiastic – the dragonhead seems to have been the inspiration for the NS posters designed by Harald Damsleth. The head fitted the twisted and garish Viking fantasy world of the Nazis.


All photos by Sól Geirsdóttir,
Texts gathered from the “minus Five Occupation of the past” English guide.
Main texts by Terje Emberland (the Nazi story, Frode Iversen (the alternative story) Additional texts: Davig Vogt, Kathy Elliot

English translation: Fredrik Sundman, Kathy Elliot, Tom Chlitton, Alexandra Sanmark

Maihaugen, Lillehammer

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I didn’t want to upload this particular photo as I do not care for churches. They mark the sad ending of the viking era, especially when covered in norse ornaments. 
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Epic norse ornament on Garmo stave church (bah) Dated – 1200 CE (Common Era)
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Maihaugen is an open air museum in Lillehammer, Norway with 200 old and new buildings. It is prettyful and you should go see it when the buildings are open for guided tours!

For more info, check it out here:

www.maihaugen.no 

~ The Viking Queen