I’m currently traveling in Scandinavia feasting my eyes on Nordic art and design, both ancient and modern. One of the highlights so far was the Baldishol Tapestry, a Medieval masterpiece dating between 1040 and 1190 AD. The tapestry was rescued from the Baldishol Church in Hedmark, Norway, when it came to light after the demolition of the church in the late 1870s. By then it looked like tattered old rags and was covered in dirt acquired from its previous use: protecting the feet of the church sexton from drafts. (Click on the photo below to see a more detailed image of the tapestry in its current setting.)
Now that it’s clean and displayed in a dark room under climate control, this brilliantly colorful tapestry (which is contemporary with the world’s most famous Medieval tapestry work, The Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the Norman Conquest of 1066) is in remarkable condition. This wall decoration, once of of a series meant to encircle a room, symbolizes the months of April and May, and is the only surviving early medieval tapestry believed to be of Nordic origin. It is on display in the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo.