Roses on Rugs, All Over the Place

The latest issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter includes an article about an unusual group of rose-patterned rutevev (geometric weave) tapestries found in southern Norway, “Rose Tapestries in Marnardal.” Karin Bøe, a weaver and researcher who lives in the area of Setesdal, became especially intrigued by the tapestries when she found some in a family trunk.

A trunk with treasures, adorned by Norwegian rose painting, rosemaling. Photo: Karin Bøe
A rose tapestry from Roligheta, Karin Bøe’s family farm. Photo: Karin Bøe

As Karin explains in her article, these weavings did not look like traditional Norwegian rutevev tapestries.

When I posted about Karin’s article on the Swedish weaving Facebook group, Vävspolen, Kirsi Manni commented that in Finland the rose-patterned rugs were woven in rya technique, and given as wedding gifts. Here’s an example, found via the site. (If you search with ruusuryijy, you will turn up many similar rugs.) Finnish weavers saw the same floral embroidery patterns that Norwegian weavers did, but they interpreted the roses in the technique most popular in that country, ryijy, or pile weave.

I checked my copy of the wonderful and comprehensive book about Finnish ryijys, The Ryijy-Rug Lives On: Finnish Ryijy-rugs 1778-2008, by Tuomas Sopanen and Leena Willberg, 2008. (Published by Tuomas Sopanen. Order here. Highly recommended.) He includes “rose ryijys.”

In her article, Karin Bøe describes finding similar rose tapestries from Ukraine and Romania. Doesn’t this feel like a sort of 19th century viral weaving sensation? Weavers in many countries saw the patterns for embroidery or cross-stitch and wove them in the techniques with which they were familiar.

Check out the article: “Rose Tapestries in Marnardal.”

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