With Stylised Heart Terminal to Handle
Hand Carved and Polychrome Decorated Solid Birchwood
Norwegian c. 1770
An unusually early example of a finely decorated Love Token washing bat. With a stylised heart form finial to the handle, it is carved with the courted girl’s initials “AAD” and dates c.1770. The face of the blade is comprehensively carved with a monogram beneath a crown and a multitude of geometric and foliate motifs, all retaining the original “Rosemaling” painted decoration.
The courtship ritual was fairly organised in rural Scandinavia and all the courting gifts or love tokens that young men made or commissioned and offered to their intended, were related to the creating, spinning, weaving, washing or smoothing of cloth. Women were the workers of cloth in rural communities and it was imagined that these gifts would therefore be handled and shown in front of other girls in the community, so the young man would be regularly brought to notice through his offerings.
Some are fairly simple hand whittled works, whilst others such as this, are finely executed little works of Folk Art. They were generally treasured and lightly used, more often displayed in the home around the hearth, which is why this example is in such fine condition. The major Folk Art Museums in both Oslo and Stockholm have significant collections of similar examples and their history is well documented.