Overlooking Stockholm, Skansen Open Air Museum is a walk back in history that every visitor should make when visiting Sweden.
Skansen is the first open-air museum and zoo in Sweden and is located on the island Djurgården in Stockholm, Sweden. It was opened on 11 October 1891 by Artur Hazelius to show the way of life in the different parts of Sweden before the industrial era.
In a few hours, oner can stroll back through time to pre-industrial Sweden and imagine life in the beautifully preserved collection of traditional buildings.
All levels of society are featured here from the humble bonded farmer to the wealthy Corn Chandler, a dealer in grains, whose quaint summerhouse is a postcard-worthy.
If you are visiting at Christmas and through early January, there are extra activities organized with attendants in period costume singing Christmas songs and dancing around the tree as well as reindeer sled rides for the children.
The Old Church in Skansen is reminiscent of a turbulent period in religious history. The Church in Sweden was heavily influenced by the traditions of Martin Luther whose idea was not to start a new religion, but rather to reform Christianity. He extolled the virtues of finding, “Salvation through Faith.” Although there are very old Swedish Churches dating back to the end of the Viking era with heavily decorated ceilings, later buildings were more austere in decoration.
Photography is encouraged throughout the museum, but the interiors of many buildings are quite dark and in order to preserve any painted objects, such as a splendid Swedish Mora clock, the use of a camera flash is prohibited. The clock at Skansen was painted in Swedish folk art style similar to the one below and dated back to 1799.
In years gone by, it was customary for art students to travel to Stockholm in order to learn to paint and later, return to the countryside to decorate household items and furniture for wealthy farmers, in typical folk art style.
Accompanying the collection of historic buildings is a small zoo, which would delight the younger members of the family, and features arctic animals such as reindeer, moose, lynx, bear and grey wolves.
Don’t forget to snap your panoramic shot, as the view from Skansen gives you an opportunity to capture the Stockholm skyline and city centre.
I recommend the various lunch options nearby. You could easily spend the afternoon here visiting other attractions such as Grona Lund Amusement Park, Vasa or the ABBA museums and the Art Gallery.
Lunch options in the area range from cafes to a la carte restaurants. One of which claimed to serve the best salmon in the world so I just had to try it. Served with potato and dill it was definitely a ‘melt-in-the-mouth,’ flavour and the freshest salmon I have eaten. In archetypal Swedish style, a simple dessert of fresh raspberries with ice cream and raspberry sauce was a fitting complement to the meal.
Traditional Tuesday – [A look at traditional Art Forms]
Poland is a country of deeply rooted culture and pursuits, not the least of which, is iconic Polish Folk Art forms, such as a specialist kind of stitching, called Kashuby embroidery. Initially used as a decoration for clothing, particularly folk costumes and women’s caps, these distinctive motifs have been transformed and used to decorate items as diverse as pottery, furniture, tableware and a range of merchandise from lanyards to mouse pads.
Kashubians are a proud people with a separate language, craft and folklore to other Polish areas. Their motto is “There is no Kashubia without Poles and Poland without Kaszubians.”
Previously considered an activity for Grandmothers, girls of all ages and even men, in Kashubia, enjoy decorating clothing with Kashuby Embroidery.
Kashubia, [a province in coastal Pomerania], is famous for its distinctive embroidery that consistently features seven main colours.
The palette used in Kashuby embroidery utilises seven main thread colours and believe or not, this tends to be strictly observed, i.e. 3 shades of blue, yellow, red, green and brown/black, for it to be called Kashuby Style.
Each of the colors used symbolized something from nature and the people.
Dark Blue – represents the profound depth of the Baltic Sea
Medium or Royal Blue – the colour of the Kashubian Lakes
Light Blue – for the sky of Kashubia
Light Yellow – representing the sand on the beaches and the sun.
Medium Yellow for the grains ripening in the fields
Dark Yellow symbolizing amber, commonly found washed up on the beaches, in these coastal areas.
Symbolizes the meadows and plant life
Indicates the forests teeming with animal life
The use of the colour red indicated the heart and love
also indicative of the blood of every Kashubian. They are a fiercely patriotic people, and would die to defend their homeland.
Red also represents poppies in girl’s hairs
BLACK or BROWN :-
representing sorrow and adversity
symbolizing the earth in the fields awaiting to be sown seeds.
Because of the poverty of the surrounding soil, the Kashubian landscape produces flowers that are stringy, but still colourful. Nature is an important inspiration for floral motifs, especially bell-flowers, lilies, daisies, roses, cornflowers, pomegranates and clovers. Tulips and Acanthus motifs, derived from Christian religious traditions were incorporated as oak or thistle leaves and restricted to embroidery executed by Nuns in the convents.
Adding Beetles and bee motifs to the embroidery stemmed from connections to the ancient pagan traditions of honouring nature.
A lovely element used in Kashuby embroidery is the ‘tree of life.’ Ideally, the branches mustn’t cross or intertwine because it symbolises that life ought to be simple and clear.
In the nineteenth century, fashions changed and traditional folk art patterned outfits began to slowly disappear but some crafts hung on and were printed on to modern merchandise to appeal to tourists.
Formerly, the different style of embroidered costume was related to the particular job the person was doing. Farmers had different motifs and outfits to that seen on fisherman.
In modern times, these outfits are rarely seen outside of special occasions, events or musical performances yet the popularity of the embroidery style, lives on.
Fellow blogger Pooja from Stories from Europe grew up in Nepal, so we’ve joined forces to write about a city located close to Kathmandu, called Bhaktapur. The individual accounts are about the same city, Bhaktapur, but written from a perspective of 34 years apart.
What things had changed?
What comparisons can we draw? Let’s find out.
It is March in the year 1986.
It’s been two months since the doomed Space Shuttle Mission exploded and before another month is over, the reactor in Chernobyl, Russia will fail triggering a catastrophic nuclear accident that will change the world.
Meanwhile, in Australia, I am young, newly married and embarking on my first overseas trip. I am optimistic and filled with a mixture of excitement and nervous energy about my upcoming visit to Nepal. It would be my first time travelling overseas.
The First Overseas Trip
Why choose Nepal for my first overseas trip when every second Australian, at that time, was going to London or Bali?
24-year-old me was eager to experience a culture entirely different from the semi-pasteurized life I had in Australia, yet I still had many reservations about what ‘Overseas’ would be like.
My Arrival in Nepal – Kathmandu
When I arrived in Kathmandu, the capital of the Himalayan Kingdom, the wave of initial shock I felt at seeing the level of underdevelopment that existed in the Third-world, quickly gave way to a respect and appreciation for the Nepalese country, its eye-popping scenery, history and peace-loving people.
In 1986, I wrote in my travel diary, “the poverty of many Nepalese citizens contrasts sharply with a grand, ancient architecture, which is set against the backdrop of the staggering beauty of the Himalayas, mountains that could easily be mistaken for clouds.”
The contrast of our well appointed accommodation, the Yak ‘n Yeti Hotel, a former Palace in itself, with the scene a few steps away on the main street of the capital was stark.
In 1986, there was very few modern conveniences, (there was great bemusement and amazement when someone brought a small vacuum cleaner into the hotel lobby). The swimming pool was cleaned with a mop that consisted of a rag wrapped around the end of a wooden broom.
Thus, it was a day or so before ‘Westernized’ me could relax and enjoy the Nepalese culture, without feeling a sense of inequity on behalf of the people, and guilt for living my life in what would Nepalis would consider to be an extravagant and materialistic Western lifestyle, in comparison. (Even though my lifestyle was merely average by Australian standards.)
One street vendor summed it up.
“Where are you from? he asked, polishing the prayer wheel we were about to buy.
“Australia? Then you are rich!” he put forward.
I shook my head.
“No, not rich, definitely not rich,” I maintained.
“No?” he said, raising his eyebrow quizzically.
“How long did it take you to save the money to come here, then?’ he asked, “Six months, a year?”
I said, “Almost two years,” but he had made his point well. I was rich in comparison.
Bhaktapur – 1986
After a day or so in Kathmandu, my new husband and I were eager to explore further by driving around 10 kilometres east, passing through largely agricultural farms and the turnoff to China before arriving at Bhaktapur.
In 1986, 80% of the population of Bhaktapur were farming and the city was not yet on the main tourist trail. That was a shame as it was the original epicentre of Nepalese government from the 12th century until Kathmandu became the capital city under the Rana Kings.
The name Bhaktapur, means, “city of devotees,” my yellowing travel notes tell me, and if you enjoy traditional art, architecture and lifestyle, Bhaktapur gives you this in bucketloads. To visit Bhaktapur in 1986, it felt like a time warp back to the 14th centuries, Nepal’s Golden Age, when the Dynasty of Malla Kings ruled the region.
As well as seeing traditional Newari homes, Bhaktapur’s main square, ‘Durbar Square’, is filled with UNESCO heritage-listed Palaces and Pagoda-styled temples, adorned with highly crafted, intricate woodcarvings and statues that I felt were a privilege to see, given that Nepal was, for many years, closed to the outside world.
It isn’t widely known that the tiered Pagoda-style architecture, typically associated with the Orient, was first developed in Nepal, by a Nepalese architect who exported the concept very successfully to Asia.
Our Guide, Madhav, explained the history behind the architectural legacy left from the Malla Dynasty and their lengthy rule which preceded the more inward-looking Rana Kings, who closed off Nepal to foreigners.
Walking across Durbar Square we saw the masterpiece that is the Golden Gate, which comprises the main entrance to the old Royal Palace. Said to be, ‘the most richly moulded specimen of its kind in the world,’ the Golden Gate is intricately embellished with Garuda, the mythical griffin, Goddesses and other Hindu creatures. The gate leads to an inner courtyard containing a Royal Pool, or Water tank where a Hindu goddess, was believed to have her daily bath.
The Royal Palace itself, a structure adorned with fifty-five carved wooden windows, was built during the reign of the Malla King Bhupendra Malla, and finally completed in 1754.
Despite the Royal Palace remaining closed to the public as a result of the damage it sustained, during the 1934 earthquake, we feel now quite lucky to see it when we did, as the damage to these heritage structures from the 1934 earthquake had been repaired and the devastating 1990 earthquake was yet to happen. This is the palace as it appeared in 2013, (not my photo).
The Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla stands atop a pillar overlooking the square. The King is depicted in an act of worship and can be seen facing the Palace and away from the main square, as a mark of respect. Such a contrast to other statues in the West.
A few more steps away, Taumadhi square features a five-tiered pagoda built in the 1700s, with stepped plinths, said to have taken three generations to construct. The animal statues on the steps, guard both the temple and the resident Goddess. My photo is old and cloudy, but I am there standing on the right side at the top of the steps, talking to some young girls.
The girls in the photo gathered around me, holding my hands tightly and pleading, “one rupee.” Their fingers were so cold, and I worried that one little girl might actually be ill. One rupee is a pitiful amount of money and my heart went out to them, but our guide had warned us away from giving any of the children money. “If you give them money, it encourages begging,” he said. I did not want to offend.
From here we strolled along the quieter back alleys, where several Newari ladies dressed in traditional Sari, sat on mats on the ground, selling their crafts.
They sold silver filigree jewellery and trinkets, some inlaid with semi-precious stones as well as carved wooden boxes. There didn’t seem to be a lot of customers about that day. I purchased a small carved box and was given another small silver box in place of change, as the seller had no coins or notes to give me any change for the transaction. A kindly gesture and one that I hope did not leave her out of pocket.
Buddhist Art -Thangkas
We were privileged to witness the Buddhist monks painting scrolls in the traditional Buddhist art form, known as Thangkas. The monks paint versions with authentic gold leaf highlights, or a lesser alternative using gold paint, which was reflected in the price of each alternative.
I selected the following Thangka, brought it home from our trip, had it framed and it has been such a delight to me. All my family love it and I still have on the wall in my new home, 34 years later. It is a timeless piece that still fascinates me. There is always something new to see in the painting, even after 34 years.
Some of the figures depicted in the painting might, on closer inspection, be considered pornographic to an unknowing Western eye. We are grateful that our guide explained the true purpose of this traditional depiction. The erotic positions of the figures were intended to excite men and the male spirit, in the hopes of increasing their fertility, something vital to the population, where children are seen as a way of securing your financial future.
Perhaps it worked, as I never had problems conceiving children?
Our final stop in Bhaktapur, was a surprise invitation from our guide to drink coffee with him in a small Lounge, located atop one of the tiered Pagoda-like buildings, overlooking Taumadhi Square.
It was a unique experience to sit and contemplate the history of the centuries-old square where Kings had walked, where battles were fought, where ancient monuments were crafted and stone sculptures stood on guard, as a timeless testament to a creative and artistically rich culture.
Our Guide told us he met a girlfriend who lived in our home town and also how it was common for many Tour Guides to marry foreign tourists and live overseas. He insisted that he would prefer to stay in Nepal and hoped his girl would move over there. He asked us to go visit her when we went back home. I imagine he would have been disappointed to hear that she had no plans to return to Nepal.
Visiting Bhaktapur was a unique and highly satisfying experience I shall never forget and I thank Pooja from the blog: Stories from Europe for the opportunity to share these beautiful memories of my first overseas travel experience with you.
Bhaktapur – 2020
What things had changed since 1986?
To find out what has changed in Bhaktapur over the intervening years, visit Pooja’s blog post, and find out what life in present-day Bhaktapur is like.
What was your first Overseas travel experience like?
Where did you go? Was it to someone familiar or completely different?
I would be happy if you link back to #firsttripoverseas in the comments below.
Easter is a time when Norwegians head for the hills, or in Norway’s case, the mountains.
Most families have a cabin they own in the ‘fjeller’ – or mountains, decorated in traditional Norwegian ‘Hytte’ style. ‘Hytte’ means cabin, plural ‘Hytter’, in Norwegian.
Hytter are timber cottages decorated with Norwegian crafts such as Traditional Rosemaling Art, woodcarving, weaving and embroidery, with mostly rustic interiors, fitted with benches topped with reindeer furs, (sitteunderlag), and other traditional furnishings.
Norwegian ‘Hytter’ Mountain Cabins
Hytter, or cabins, are quite rudimentary houses, partly because of the remoteness of their locations and partly due to the Norwegian tradition of getting back to nature. Visiting a family mountain cabin at Easter is a therapeutic time for Norwegians to ski, breathe in the fresh mountain air, relax and for a short time, not rely on everyday modern conveniences.
So when I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Hytte in Beito, high up in the Norwegian mountains with Norwegian friends, how could I resist?
The area known as Beito is part of the community at Beitostølen, an elite skiing location where the likes of the Norwegian Olympic ski team spent their time. Norwegian-Australian friends who heard I was going to visit Beitostølen, were quite rightly jealous, reacting with comments like,
“That is where the ski team practice.”
“Do you realize how lucky you are to be going to Beitostølen?”
I did. It was different to any other holiday I had experienced.
The Hytte at Beito comprised three timber cabins, with adjoining composting toilet and washroom; that would later hold a shower at some point in the future.
The cabins, themselves, were not equipped with running water, so we sponged ourselves using a bucket, with water sourced from the nearby spring. Fetching the water is a chore that would traditionally be delegated to children.
Living as I do in Australia, meant things like fetching water in the snow proved to be a novel experience. I was the first to volunteer for this task as it was another chance to be outside in the hushed, cosy silence of the snow-covered hillside.
If it meant I was to traipse through knee-deep snow to collect water, those mediative moments of silence, amidst the breathtaking mountain scenery, inhaling fresh Norwegian air and hearing only my muffled footsteps, were merely a comforting, restorative practice for me.
Norwegian Hytte Meals
Hytter meals are simple, apart from breakfast. The traditional hytte breakfast is a feast of eggs, salmon, cheese, bread, jam and vegetables, such as cucumber and carrot and also perhaps some yoghurt/kefir or waffles. Our bodies needed lots of food, ostensibly, to keep warm and active out in the snow.
Lunch is almost non-existent, but really after the filling Hytte breakfast, who needs lunch? A Norwegian chocolate bar, known as a ‘Quiklunsj’ (Quick lunch), or an apple, would suffice.
Dinner is mostly a laid back affair of home-made soup, cold meat such as lamb or boiled sheep and bread, or ‘Lompe’ – basically a hot dog, with a bread-like wrap made from potato flour, cooked on the outside barbeque or grill, of course.
Things to do at the Hytte
We spent the daytime out of doors, unless it was snowing heavily. We skied, tobogganed, slide down snowy slopes with the ‘akebrett,’ a paddle like slide, or the snow bike; walked about in snowshoes, built snow castles, threw snowballs and made plenty of snow angels, and snow “candles,” just because.
Once darkness arrived, it was time to ‘play’ inside, talking, drawing or Rosemaling – another Norwegian tradition, which is actually my great passion. If it was snowing hard outside during the day, there would be more Rosemaling as wells as card games or puppet shows, for the children. We read books too, as there was no TV, nor phone reception, unless you visited the grocery store a few miles away.
To get into the full spirit of the Norwegian Easter experience, I read one of the rivetting crime novels from Norwegian crime fiction author Jo Nesbø to complement my surroundings. He is a compelling writer and if you have not come across him before, you can read a Book Review.
The Hytte was good, clean fun and a really healthy, energetic holiday.
Was it cold by Australian standards?
Yes, but did I like it?
Absolutely. I loved it.
Being at the tail-end of a Norwegian winter, the weather towards Easter is generally calm, without storms. After a cold night, the sun could be so warm, my face became tanned!
During these sun-filled days, the Norwegians would enjoy sitting against a sunny wall, their face upturned towards the sky, taking in much needed Vitamin D that their bodies had missed during the long, dark winter. They even have a word for this kind of activity: Solveggen.
Warming the soul and the body!
This is what the Norwegian Easter did for me, too!
Wherever you are in the world, you can still travel virtually. When are you going this Easter?
Norwegians, Easter, cabins and crime literature belong together like horse and carriage – a tradition that started over 90 years ago. Here you can find out how to celebrate a typical Norwegian Easter.
First: Ensure that you have skis – either bought or borrowed. Also, make sure you have ski wax even if you are not sure how to use it. There is always someone along the tracks that can help a ‘forlorn wretch’.
When it comes to clothing it is important that it has red color, preferably with a home knitted wool sweater that smells of last year’s bonfire.
But wait a minute. If you do not know it already: Norwegians love skiing, especially at Easter, and many go several miles to their cabins where to spend the vacation. Surprisingly many people ski into a different era where outdoor toilet, drafty cabins and totally deserted landscape are considered paradise.
If we are ever to begin to design our own art, we need an understanding of the various elements and principles of design, and how they combine to create an overall pleasing visual effect. So far, in previous posts, we have looked at Line and Shape, and how they contribute to art forms. This week, we focus on the element of ‘SPACE’ and find how it can assist to create a better design.
Week 3 – Space
Space as an element of art that refers to the area around objects: either Positive Space: that is areas occupied by an object or form and, Negative Space: the area in, between, around, or within objects. Every positive shape is surrounded by negative space.
You can further divide Negative spaces into: –
– Passive negative space – this separates visual elements, and includes things like margins and the spacing between letters, words, or lines.
-Active negative space – this draws the viewer’s eye to something, or help viewers focus on the objects that they should see, instead of making their eyes look all over the place.
This month the ‘ Traditional Art’ feature depicts a contemporary phenomenon that has quickly turned to an established tradition in modern, suburban Australia:
Decorated Traffic Signal Control Boxes
A boring, metal-grey ‘signal box’ that controls the traffic lights is just that – boring and sterile. Add a little imagination and a group of unemployed art students and a phenomenon of community art is born.
What is more, tenders for this community art project are called annually, by the municipal council authority. This has evolved to become a fantastic way for struggling artists to earn extra income, or, alternatively, for the councils to engage enthusiastic volunteers in the community.
The variety of designs and local artistic ‘input’ is admirable. A brightly coloured signal box, of course, is better visually and aesthetically, than the cold, grey metal box. One could even develop a collection of photos documenting each box to form a themed picture story of one’s travels!
It might be a little distracting to drivers, when waiting for the traffic lights to change at an intersection, however, it chases away the boredom and keeps one from the temptation of checking the mobile phone!
Some traffic box murals even tell a story pertinent to the street/area.
Traditional Art Forms – the diversity of themes of the new traditions is –
Everyone loves chocolate eggs at Easter time, but for some cultures, eggs have always been much more significant than a sweet treat, and have evolved into a traditional art form in itself. This month, in Traditional Art From Around the World, I showcase some examples of Painted Easter Eggs from Eastern Europe.
Poland, The Czech Republic an d other Eastern European countries, follow a tradition of decorating eggs, in specific designs and colors, at Easter. The designs themselves are painted on hen or goose eggs, not wooden eggs, as some might think, and are executed with great care using age – old techniques. The egg yolk and white are either allowed to dry up over time, or are removed by blowing through a small hole in the egg.
The designs are highly indicative of not only a cultural region but, in some cases, also a particular family, as can be seen in the following photo, from http://polishfolkdolls.blogspot.com.au/
The practice of covering an egg,with knotted wire, first developed as a Slovak tradition, but is also used in egg creations in the Czech Republic. Motifs and color combinations can at times appear cross cultural, and while traditional styles prevail, egg artists add their own individual form of inspiration in order to personalize the decorated Easter eggs.
The most recognizable symbol of Easter, in Prague and the Czech Republic, is a hand-painted or decorated egg known as “Kraslice.” These eggs are made from ordinary eggs and ink, by the village girls, and are given to the village boys, on Easter Monday. On Easter Sunday, the boys make a kind of twisted cane/whip that usually decorated with a ribbon. On Easter Monday, they then travel to the houses, to visit the girls, and hit them around the legs with this whip, (an old tradition supposedly thought to increase fertility), after which the girls then give the boy an egg which the girls themselves, have decorated!
[Where were women’s rights in those days?]
These days the eggs are not so much a gift of love, from girl to boy, as a general reminder of the heritage and beauty from the region according to the differing techniques unique to each geographical, or cultural, area.
In Valassko, (Wallachia, Romania), Easter eggs are decorated in red, orange, and black with figural motifs like girls and roosters, whilst South Moravia is known for eggs created using the scratching technique.
Painted and decorated eggs is a traditional art form that dates back to ancient times in the Ukraine. As such, each regional area and indeed, each family developed rituals, symbols and meanings for Easter, along with their individual brand of decoration for the Easter Egg.
“Pysanka” is often taken to mean any type of decorated egg, but it specifically refers to an egg created by the written-wax batik method, utilizing traditional folk motifs and designs. In the western Ukrainian town of Kolomyya, there is a museum dedicated to ‘Pysanky’, with several thousand eggs on display.
The word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, “to write”, as the designs are not painted, but ‘written’ with hot beeswax, using a stylus or a pin-head. Wooden and beaded eggs are also known as “pysanky,” because they mimic the decorative style of pysanky, but in a different medium.
Several other Ukrainian techniques of decorating eggs can be identified throughout the region. All but the krashanky and lystovky are meant to be decorative, (as opposed to being edible).
Krashanky –from krasyty (красити), “to decorate”– are boiled eggs dyed a single color (with vegetable dyes), and are blessed and eaten at Easter.
Pysanky –from pysaty (писати), “to write”– are raw eggs created with the wax-resist method (batik).
Krapanky –from krapka (крапка), “a dot”– are raw eggs decorated using the wax-resist method, but with only dots as ornamentation (no symbols or other drawings). They are traditionally created by dripping molten wax from a beeswax candle onto an egg.
Dryapanky –from dryapaty (дряпати), “to scratch”– are created by scratching the surface of a dyed egg to reveal the white shell below.
Malyovanky –from malyuvaty (малювати), “to paint”– are created by painting a design with a brush using oil or water color paints. It is sometimes used to refer to coloring (e.g. with a marker) on an egg.
Nakleyanky –from kleyaty (клеяти), “to glue on”– are created by glueing objects to the surface of an egg. Eg Lace
Travlenky –from travlenya (травлення), “etching” – are created by waxing eggs and then etching away the unwaxed areas. This is not a traditional Ukraine practice, but has become popularized recently.
Biserky –from biser (бісер), “beads”– are created by coating an egg with beeswax, and then embedding beads into the wax to create geometric designs.
Lystovky –from lystya (листя), “leaves”– are created by dyeing an egg to which small leaves have been attached.
Other Eastern European countries also may use wax resist techniques to decorate their Easter eggs:
The beauty of the traditional arts is that they are by ordinary folk, untrained and unskilled. The techniques used, are taught, from family to family, father to son, mother to daughter. Their charm and naivete belies the history, long tradition and meaning in the work.
The vibrant colours and cheery designs are a way for the peasants to brighten up their daily lives.
This month I showcase Polish Folk Art
Folk arts comprise sculpture, embroidery, painting,and pottery as well. It differs from region to region, and is sometimes very old. A little known area for decorative flower painting is Polish folk art in the southern or Lesser, Poland.
The Zalipie style was popularised mainly by Felicja Curyłowa (1904-1974). She was a versatile folk artist. She was asked to paint e.g. interior of the famous Kraków restaurant “Wierzynek” or the dining room on the cruise ship “Batory”. The artist’s homestead became an attraction even during her life. After her death, it was bought by Cepelia (Center of Folk and Artistic Industry) and handed to the care of the District Museum in Tarnów.
And Old cowshed in the Felicja Curyło’s cottage, Zalipie, has been turned into an exhibition-workshop hall where paintings by local artists are presented.
Zalipie as a painted village was discovered in 1905 by Wladyslaw Hickel. He was fascinated with the local tradition of painting houses in colourful floral patterns. This custom started at the end of 19th century when old-fashioned furnaces were replaced with more modern enclosed fires and chimneys. Before that, the soot-blackened walls were only brighten with circular patches of lime mixed with wood ash but since the new furnaces with chimneys appeared, ornaments started to be more sophisticated. Women started to decorate not only interiors of their cottages but also outer walls, farm buildings, fences and even dog kennels and tree trunks.
The most talented and famous painter was Felicja Curylowa whose farmstead was turned into the museum in 1978, four years after her death. But Felicja Curylowa was well known not only in Zalipie. She also painted interiors of famous restaurant Wierzynek in Krakow. She was frequent winner of local house-painting competition that have been organized annually in Zalipie since 1965. The name of this contest is Malowana Chata (Painted Cottage) and it takes place on the first weekend after the Corpus Christi Feast. This is also the best time to visit Zalipie. Zalipie village is not an open-air museum, most of the buildings are actual functioning households. Also school, post office and church were painted in colourful flower compositions. Zalipie is a unique place to visit and there aren’t many other tourists (yet).
Rangoli is a traditional women’s art form common in Hindu households throughout southern India. Designs are drawn directly on the ground and entranceways as part of a ritualistic religious practice. The front steps, entrance, and walkways of buildings are properly cleaned and then decorated with designs and patterns made with chalk powders. There are a remarkable variety of styles and motifs which vary according to the tribal groups and festivals.
The activity is a welcoming of deities into the home or space. In particular, the way is prepared to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune but many gods and powers are honored. The activity of drawing the forms is a religious rite and the devotional intention is more important than the end product. The temporary nature of the designs make it clear that the significance is in the deed for it is not creating an object to be held aside and preserved. The designs are quickly lost to the passing of feet, wheels and paws, fading into the dust and bustle of daily life and the ritual of washing and drawing is rhythmically repeated, particularly on auspicious days.
It is one example of the blending of religious practice and art within the rhythms of daily life that are found quite commonly throughout traditional Indian culture. Unfortunately, rapid urbanization and westernization are negatively impacting this remarkable tradition. However, even in an urban environment of modern apartment living the tradition continues on for the blending of religion, art, and everyday life is very much at the heart of Indian culture.
HOW IS IT MADE?
In the early morning hours when the world is just awakening, the woman of the house begins preparations for the day ahead. Daily rhythms include a thorough sweeping and cleaning around the home as well as the courtyard and entranceways. Special care is given to prepare a particular space for drawing rangoli designs and patterns in front of entranceways and along walkways.
The designs vary according to tribal groups and in terms of complexity and scale, there is a very wide range. Designs are generally done with white chalk powder but all reaches a colorful and exuberant zenith during festival time. The designs are laid out with a regular grid of dots or hatching lines which are developed into a wide host of motifs. Designs using a regular grid of dots are created by either connecting the marks or looping around them.
Designs are built upon basic geometric shapes and are further developed into mandalas of swirling lines flowing, curving, and twisting into complicated knots of undulating, rotating, and repeating patterns. The grids also lend themselves to designs of fixed shapes and mosaic like tessellations of stylized flowers, plants, animals, birds, conch shells, chariots, lamps, and much more. The are also given borders and embellishments of running lines, undulating patterns, and mandala like emblems and symbols.
All the designs have an underlying wholeness built upon primary geometric shapes such as circles, squares, hexagons, octagons, and a very wide range of running forms, spirals, rotations, and looping patterns. Most commonly, a simple motif or shape will be rotated and layered to build up the designs, creating a flowing movement or spiraling gesture. The result is an organic and dynamic balance between the fluidity and movement of the hand and the fixed order and determined boundaries of direct line and shape.
The remarkably diverse forms reflect the expressive and devotional impulses of the women who make them. The variety of designs while traditional in origin, often have a very personal character and are a result of the creative vitality working to enliven the energies that connect earthly and cosmic forces. From a social perspective, rangoli is an outward sign that “this is a proper household where the gods are honored”.
Patterns are taught to girls by their mothers and by the time they are young brides, their skills with this art form are most impressive. Quite naturally, the rhythmic nature of the activity leads to some highly developed skills in terms of draftsmanship, control of hand, and balance of form.
But, all things return to the earth and the designs quickly fade into the scuff and dust of comings and goings, creating another layer to the cycles of daily life. Over the past decade, I have marveled at this Hindu practice, appreciating it’s many creative and dynamic forms as well as it’s devotional intentions. This common, everyday aspect of Indian life is a rich artistic and social tradition which imbues spaces with positive intention, heightened purpose, and deeper significance, as well as beautifying the meeting of public and private spaces. As an artist and teacher, I have been fascinated and inspired by the creativity, the endless variety, and sheer beauty of this powerful and dynamic art form.
No matter where you travel, in the world, within each region you will find examples of innovative forms of folk art. These are not completed by the skilled artisan, but rather by the common person, often with little training and few tools, simply decorating their homes and surrounds. Historically, an itinerant artist might travel from town to town this way, painting as he went, eeking out a meagre existence through the doors of time.
Rosemaling is often seen in Churches in Norway
Rangoli is a traditional women’s art form common in Hindu households throughout southern India. Designs are drawn directly in white chalk,on the ground, at the house entranceway, by the women of the household, as part of a ritualistic religious practice.
My primary interest is in Norwegian and old Hansa traditional art forms, such as Rosemaling, the Danish Almuemaling, and the Dutch Hindeloopen, styles of painting that ordinary folk used to decorate their homes during the dark cold days of winter when they could not go outside to work.
I find the differnt forms of these old art styles dynamic. They feel alive and have a historic connection to a way of life long past, but still valued.
In many forms of folk art, religion symbolism is rife, and the tulip is a common feature. Once the Tulip meant the Holy trinity, something inherent in many different religions and I guess this is the reason we see it represented in art in the East as well as the West.
The following link displays border designs in South India – Take a look. How often do you see the Tulip form?