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The craftsman
Vol. IV, No. 5 (August 1903)

An ancient Swedish handicraft,   pp. 365-368 ff. PDF (1.9 MB)


Page 365


An Ancient Swedish Handicraft
N last month's issue of The Craftsman there was illustrated a
      feminine art-industry of the sadly circumstanced Russian
      peasantry. The illustration was an example of the so-called
      "Muscovite embroidery." A woman of the suffering class
      had wrought into a homespun fabric, with the irony of
bright-colored stitches, the story of want and of the grief arising
from it. The desire for a larger, more abundant life-for food,
rest, happiness-was compressed into an inscription of the deepest
pathos: "Let us sing and dance and forget for a while how bit-
terly we live."
    We have now to deal with a fireside industry of another
Northern race: this time, a sturdy and contented people, enjoying
equally labor and recreation; if we may judge by the indications
set in the work with the same clearness as in the Russian handicraft.
The industry at present illustrated represents the oldest human
labor, with the exception of husbandry, in relation to which it
occupies the position of the feminine to the masculine element.
The spade and the distaff have ever been the closest companions.
Spinning and weaving are attributed even to the gods and heroes,
and all the glamor of romance surrounds one of the most necessary
and usual employments.
    In the revival of hand labor which is in actual progress, inter-
est has naturally turned to primitive ways of producing textiles,
with the result that in numerous regions of France, England,
Ireland and the United States, long disused wheels and looms have
renewed their activity: thereby restoring old-time thrift, and prom-
ising future prosperity to these same communities. In Sweden,
with whose peasant industries we are now concerned, the revival of
the feminine handicrafts,-especially the production of textile
fabrics-has been due to the efforts of a society known as the
Handarbetets Viinner. By this means, the art-weaving of the
Swedish peasants, which is an inheritance from pagan times, has
been saved from the danger of extinction, which it incurred through
the introduction of machinery. The Swedish peasants, accord-
in to history, the testimony of travelers, tradition, and the
proof of the old tapestries themselves, have always taken great
pride in decorating the walls and furniture of their houses with the
                                                           365


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