Viking Age embroidery from Vikings in BC

Stag embroidery in silver on silk

Stag embroidery in silver on silk

This particular piece of embroidery has been published in many places, but I wanted my own photo of it, despite the challenges getting photos of anything at this exhibit.

About the embroidery, the display said:

“The deer was a symbol of Christ in the early Church. A piece of silk fabric found in Birka has a deer embroidered in silk thread. Its heart is represented by a triangular white stone. When it was made, the silver would have glimmered white, perhaps recalling the Vite Krist (The White Christ) as Christ was referred to in Scandinavia.”

Display including the stag embroidery

Display including the stag embroidery

This display was entitled “The Deer – a symbol of Christ” and included:

  • an equal-armed brooch from Uppland
  • the embroidery of silver on silk showing a stag turning his head, found at Uppland
  • a box-shaped brooch in bronze, silver, and gilded found at Gotland
  • a round brooch of silver found at Uppland
  • a round brooch of silver found at Sodermanland, Sweden

One of the two round brooches was “decorated with four sculpted deer gathered around either a well or mountain from which four rivers flow. The well may represent the ‘well of life’ and the mountain with four rivers represents Paradise – these were both important symbols of Christian baptism. The deer are looking anxiously behind them, at four animals which look ready to attack.”

The box brooch is described as having simplified versions of the deer and well symbolism, along with Old Norse motifs, and this same symbolism is on the equal-armed brooch, though the deer are more like goats, and there are only two of them.

Read other posts from the Vikings In BC display: Vikings in BC tag

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