[My Chamber of Textile Thoughts. No: XXI | By Viveka Hansen]

The life and manners of the Swedish people – including clothing and decorative textiles – were two of many areas interesting the artist and folklore researcher Nils Månsson Mandelgren (1813-1899). During many years he carried out well planned journeys of study, which resulted in a very extensive collection of almost 100.000 drawings, water-colours, photographs and written observations, today kept at the Folklivsarkivet (Folklore archives) in Lund, Sweden. This “Textile Thought” aims to demonstrate a couple of his well-made illustrations, whose prime purposes were to record and preserve the knowledge of the country’s different local traditions. 

The comprehensive material of traditional clothing in the Mandelgren Collection is exemplified with this sketch/water-colour from the north west part of Skåne. The description reads; ‘Man’s costume from Kullen – Luggude district 1818, the blue coat and garments under are for daily use, the white is worn during mourning, at funerals and communion’. (Courtesy of: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, fig. 1303).

The comprehensive material of traditional clothing in the Mandelgren Collection is exemplified with this sketch/water-colour from the north west part of Skåne. The description reads; ‘Man’s costume from Kullen – Luggude district 1818, the blue coat and garments under are for daily use, the white is worn during mourning, at funerals and communion’. (Courtesy of: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, fig. 1303).

To be a dedicated guardian of old traditions and carry on a collection of objects from the life and manners of the people during the period c. 1870-1930, were first and foremost performed by a group of well-to-do individuals whom did not had their roots in the farming society. For example: Sophie Adlersparre, Arthur Hazelius, Jacob Kulle, Lilli Zickerman, Emelie von Walterstorff and Henriette Coyet. Nils Månsson Mandelgren was on the other hand a prerunner to them and as well relating from a “simple home” in Ingelsträde village, Wäsby parish, Luggude district in Skåne. Both his parents died early and Nils was moved around to various relatives. In spite of these for a small child unsettling circumstances he was already at 8-10 years of age clear of the future occupation of his life. It was drawing and painting which were the boy’s vocations, and he started working with decorating greeting cards, furniture and household utensils for the farmer’s needs in the area.

Bench cover in double interlocked tapestry (rölakan), brocaded tabby/type “halvkrabba” and brocaded on the counted thread (dukagång) as Mandelgren sketched and later added with appropriate shades in water-colour 1865. His note reads; ‘Cover which was owned by the ringer in Wittschöfle’. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1074). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Bench cover in double interlocked tapestry (rölakan), brocaded tabby/type “halvkrabba” and brocaded on the counted thread (dukagång) as Mandelgren sketched and later added with appropriate shades in water-colour 1865. His note reads; ‘Cover which was owned by the ringer in Wittschöfle’. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1074). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

By chance Mandelgren as a 17 year old met the count Gustav de la Gardie, who understood the young farmer boy’s aptitude for art. He therefore assisted the young man financially to receive a suitable art education including several years of studies in both Stockholm and Copenhagen. After the completion of his studies he was full of ideas: a stay abroad 1842-43, building and planning proposals in Stockholm, founding of a Sunday art school, documentation of mural church paintings, an atlas for Sweden’s history of farming and his main mission in life as travelling ethnographic researcher.

Bench cover from Gladsax parish in Jerrestad district, Skåne. In the year 1871 Mandelgren made a water-colour of this textile including all the typical borders from the region, woven in the same techniques as on previous illustration. He noted in dialect ‘“Snår” bought 1871’. Besides during the later decades of his life, he carried on a considerable collection/purchasing for the Nordic Museum (founded 1873) and several other early museum collections in Stockholm. If this particular textile ended up at one of these museums is yet unknown. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1075). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Bench cover from Gladsax parish in Jerrestad district, Skåne. In the year 1871 Mandelgren made a water-colour of this textile including all the typical borders from the region, woven in the same techniques as on previous illustration. He noted in dialect ‘“Snår” bought 1871’. Besides during the later decades of his life, he carried on a considerable collection/purchasing for the Nordic Museum (founded 1873) and several other early museum collections in Stockholm. If this particular textile ended up at one of these museums is yet unknown. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1075). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

Water-colour depicting double interlocked tapestry described by Mandelgren as; ‘A floor rug sketched in Wä at the ringers, the borders use to be on bed- or bench covers’. The traditional textile had accordingly got a new function as a rug in 1865 from the visited home in Skåne. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1076). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Water-colour depicting double interlocked tapestry described by Mandelgren as; ‘A floor rug sketched in Wä at the ringers, the borders use to be on bed- or bench covers’. The traditional textile had accordingly got a new function as a rug in 1865 from the visited home in Skåne. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1076). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

Already during the 1840s his documentation work was introduced, but it was foremost between the years 1862-91 as he made one systematical long journey every year. The geographical area for his research stretched across the whole country, from Lapland in the north to Skåne in the south. During the winter months in Stockholm he made fair copies of his field work, drew conclusions and planned the next year’s journey.

Mandelgren’s observation of this cushion in double interlocked tapestry reads; ‘The front of this cushion at P. Persson in Öfvarp, Ö Strö parish 1865’. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1077). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Mandelgren’s observation of this cushion in double interlocked tapestry reads; ‘The front of this cushion at P. Persson in Öfvarp, Ö Strö parish 1865’. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1077). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

Water-colour depicting a double interlocked tapestry textile from Öfvarp, Ö Strö parish in Frosta district with eight-sided stars. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1080). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Water-colour depicting a double interlocked tapestry textile from Öfvarp, Ö Strö parish in Frosta district with eight-sided stars. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1080). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

The most southerly landscape Skåne was close to his heart because it was his native place, as well as the area’s rich possibility for research about folk traditions from various angles made him return to the region. The local differences of the clothing for use during everyday life as well as for festivities, took considerable proportions in his material and resulted in a large number of sketches, water-colours and notations. This material also covered the decorative textiles from Skåne, which particularly was recognised by him during the period 1865-75. Among these, 7 water-colours and 2 photographs have been registered to be “rölakan” or double interlocked tapestries from the Mandelgren Collection, where several are depicted in this brief description of an important 19th century folklore researcher from a textile point of view.

Water-colour showing a geometrical woven pattern. Mandelgren noted; ‘travel cushion of double interlocked tapestry or “rölakan” studied in Efverlöf village in Skåne 1873’. Maybe this particular cushion had its origin from the village’s well-known family comprising of skilled female weavers during several generations; called “The inn’s daughters from Everlöv”. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1093). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Water-colour showing a geometrical woven pattern. Mandelgren noted; ‘travel cushion of double interlocked tapestry or “rölakan” studied in Efverlöf village in Skåne 1873’. Maybe this particular cushion had its origin from the village’s well-known family comprising of skilled female weavers during several generations; called “The inn’s daughters from Everlöv”. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1093). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

Fabric of weft-patterned tabby type “opphämta” in water-colour from 1865, will be the final example of Mandelgren’s close observations of textile patterns. The Mandelgren Collection is also in the process of being digitized, for more information please see the Folklore Archive’s website. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1079). Photo: The IK Foundation & Company, London.

Fabric of weft-patterned tabby type “opphämta” in water-colour from 1865, will be the final example of Mandelgren’s close observations of textile patterns. The Mandelgren Collection is also in the process of being digitized, for more information please see the Folklore Archive’s website. (Owner: Folklivsarkivet, Lund, no 1079). Photo: The IK Foundation, London.

To be continued…

SOURCES:

  • Hansen, Viveka, Textila Kuber och Blixtar – Rölakanets Konst och Kulturhistoria, pp. 189-192, 1992.
  • Hansen, Viveka, ‘Mandelgrens intresse för textilier i Skåne’, Ale no. 2, pp. 13-23, 1998 (quotes in captions from N.M. Mandelgren are translated from Swedish into English).
  • Folklivsarkivet, Lund (Folklore Archive in Lund).

PLEASE REFERENCE AS FOLLOWS:

  • Hansen, Viveka, ‘Unique 19th Century Observations of Textiles and Clothing’, TEXTILIS (April 22, 2014); http://textilis.net/ (Accessed: Day/Month/Year)