Traditional Marriage Weavings from Scania

by Viveka Hansen

Nour Foundation / Textile & Art Publications / IK Foundation, 1996

Horses and Trees in Octagons
Gards or Villands district, northeast Scania, first half 19th century
128 x 238 cm, interlocked tapestry (detail)



For almost a hundred years from the middle of the 18th century, a little known and very beautiful art flourished in Scania, the southernmost region of Sweden. This was expressed in small textile panels that were mostly made for wedding ceremonies. Marriage rituals have always been of great importance to small communities: it involves the setting up of a new home and represents a sense of continuity in tradition. For each wedding in Scania an extensive dowry composed of many kinds of woven textiles was created by bride-to-be.

The most usual weaving method employed was a double interlocked tapestry technique known in Swedish as rölakan. A number of techniques and styles were often worked side by side, and the effects of each are very different. Interlocked tapestry, for example, was used to produce strongly geometric designs: the colours are bright and the patterns naive, though they stem from very ancient symbols. Their charm and simplicity are reflective of the work of a young woman in preparation for her marriage. The textiles made in the dove-tail tapestry technique known in Swedish as flamskväv, on the other hand, are generally woven with a black or dark brown background, and show small pictorial vignettes surrounded by naturalistic and semi-naturalistic flowers composed in a freehand manner.  

Vase of Flowers with People
Torna district, southwest Scania, late 18th century
50 x 52 cm, dove-tail tapestry


Lion in a Tree
Bara district, southwest Scania, late 18th century
48 x 91 cm, dovetail tapestry (detail)

  The colours and the appeal of the designs remain as fresh and vibrant today as when these beautiful weavings were created during the high period of the art, over one hundred and fifty years ago. Each textile is a work of art in its own right. The extraordinary patterns are not only of interest to collectors, connoisseurs and contemporary weavers - appealing to lovers of both traditional and contemporary taste - but also represent a comprehensive design source. 
The Collector
Dr. Khalili, born in 1945, is a collector, benefactor and scholar of worldwide standing whose collections range into such diverse cultural areas as the Islamic lands, Japan, Spain and Sweden. He has made notable contributions to the scholarship of Islamic art; current publishing activity includes chairmanship of the editorial boards of the Khalili Collections of Islamic Art and Japanese Art. Dr Khalili has also contributed to many articles and other publications. The 95 Swedish textiles from the Nasser D. Khalili Collection form probably the largest, most comprehensive and most important private collection of Swedish textiles in the world today.

Birds and Vines
Torna or Bara district, southwest Scania, late 18th century
52 x 45 cm, dove-tail tapestry (detail)


Four-Pointed Star
Smaland, c. 1700
48 x 47 cm, cut and pieced balanced plain weave (detail)

  The Author
Born in Malmö in 1962, for the past ten years Viveka Hansen has made the study of Swedish traditional arts her major pursuit, concentrating on the textile art of southern Sweden. She has travelled widely through Europe studying works in private and public collections. Hansen has written numerous articles on the subject and organised a number of exhibitions for the IK Foundation. A skilled weaver, married with two children, she lives in southern Sweden.


This is the first art book for more than a decade to present some of the best examples of textile art from southern Sweden. The textiles illustrated in the sumptuous colour plates are woven in a variety of techniques and display the full range of the traditional designs of Scanian marriage weavings. The large format, with an additional eighteen full-page illustrations of details from the tapestries, allows the reader to almost touch the very textiles. Considerable care has been taken in the production of this book to portray the accuracy of the magnificent colours.



Cross in Eight-Pointed Medallion
West Göinge district, northeast Scania, c. 1800
59 x 59 cm, interlocked tapestry (detail)


The main text by Viveka Hansen is the result of many years of meticulous research, during which time she examined almost 2,000 examples in Swedish museums and other collections. The author discusses with lively detail the social conditions in Scania and the lives of the weavers, as well as the techniques, designs and materials that they used.

There is also a preface by Dr Nasser D. Khalili, as well as an introduction by Michael Franses that highlights the international appeal of Swedish textile art, placing it in a wider context. Full technical analyses of the textiles appear in the appendices. 


This new publication is intended to serve both as a dazzling picture book illustrating the finest examples of Swedish textile art and, combined with a thorough but enjoyable text, as an essential reference work.

The many years of research by Viveka Hansen and her knowledge permeating the text make this publication a standard work for woven Swedish [textiles]... Outstanding photographic quality.

English language edition published by The Nour Foundation in association with
Textile & Art Publications, London, and IK Foundation, Sweden, February 1996
First edition 2,000 copies
- Large format, 359 x 298 mm
- 248 pages, hardbound in real cloth, with silk ribbon markers and slipcase
- 85,000 word text, with notes and appendices, by Viveka Hansen
- 95 superb full colour plates, 18 full-page colour details, and over 110 other illustrations
- Outstanding high quality colour reproduction, printed on fine German art paper

ISBN: 1-874780-07-2
PRICE: UKPound 145

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all text and illustrations © Nour Foundation / Textile & Art Publications / IK Foundation 1996:
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