About the changing world all around us

This weekend was definitely what you would call wet! We had planned on taking Olga the Bra out to see the snow, which fell around the 28th of October and stayed…well until now, when we finally got our snow tires on the car Friday afternoon, then it began to rain (of course). That didn’t stop me from taking my walk for exercise today! But we didn’t really feel like hanging out in the rain.

Beautiful old figure

Beautiful old figure

So what is a blogging couple to do? We decided to go to the Maritime Museum (in case you didn’t read the title of this post or look at the pictures – I know I had you in suspense there for a second)!

Lady of the sea

Lady of the sea

I have always been fascinated by the beautiful and ornate figureheads on the lovely old sailing ships. So I was happy to see that they had quite a few on display at the museum. I have always seen them as romantic figures, or some of them like the Vikings were quite frightening. However all of them were intricate detailed craftsmanship.

The mark is from touching her for luck
The mark is from touching her for luck

Ship figureheads have a long history dating back to pre-Christian times, when Chinese, Egyptian, Greek and Romans navigated the Pacific and Indian oceans and Mediterranean Sea.

This lady was exotic for Norway

This lady was exotic for Norway

The figureheads of these ancient people were linked to the superstition that these sculptered images were guardians of the vessels they adorned and were also supposed to frighten enemies, as well as give a religious significance to the exploits in which they were engaged.

Sea bride or sacrafice?

Sea bride or sacrafice?

The same motive was later endorsed by the Vikings during the early Christian era. The prows of vessels rode high out of the water and were frequently tipped with intimidating dragons, sea serpents of fierce animal heads. Since the Vikings are credited with having been the first navigators to explore North American waters, it is likely that the figureheads on their vessels were the first ones to appear in the New World.

Virgin gardians of the sea

Virgin gardians of the sea

The sailors of these early northern European vessels firmly believed that their wooden icons were endowed with magical powers. Seafarers of later eras turned their backs on this type of idol worship, but remained fiercely superstitious concerning the protection of the figureheads on their vessels, believing that any damage to these icons meant certain disaster.

This one is almost Venus

This one is almost Venus

Most of the ones at the Maritime museum are from the 17th, 18th and 19th century and depict maidens who watched over their ships.

Provacative and modest maidens

Provacative and modest maidens

I think they are fascinating to look at and admire the craftsmanship of the carpenters who made these. I wonder what the sailing ships looked like which bore them. One thing is clear at this point and time, these certainly were lucky enough to outlast the ships they watched over.

Equality of the sexes...this one is a man

Equality of the sexes...this one is a man

Drop in and see RennyBA’s post and our guest Olga! Ships a hoy!


Comments on: "Norwegian Maritime Museum on a rainy afternoon" (22)

  1. They are indeed beautiful. Sorry about all the work putting on the snow tires just to have it rain, but the next time it snows you will be ready.

    These are indeed beautiful. I would love to see them in person. Perhaps one day.

    Have a great day. Big hug to you and Renny. 🙂

    You are welcome anytime Sandee! Just come on over and we will put you up!! As for the snowtires…I am convinced it won’t snow before Christmas now…why? We are prepared

  2. Those are marvelous! I bet that was fun!

    DianeCA: Thanks, we always have a good time on our little trips!

  3. What an interesting set prow figureheads. (I always felt a little sorry for them, forced to face into the salty waves.)

    Awwww, I never thought of it like that. I always thought it was kind of romantic

  4. those really are some beautiful works of art. thanks so much for sharing them with us. i always found it interesting that women weren’t allowed as part of the crew in some superstitions but they were carved as the figureheads.

    DianeCA: Yes the sailors were very superstitious so only men were allowed as crew, however the women still stood for inspiration and guidance. (As we should!)

  5. Oh, I love museums! There’s always so much to see and so much to learn!

    Those are all very interesting… Some of them relate to my Intro To Folklore Studies/Intro to Scandinavian Literature class right now especially because a lot of them seem to be referring to superstitions that pre-date the spread of Christianity. I really like the virgin guardians. They look like they were very carefully sculpted 🙂

    A lot of our superstitions and history predate Christianity in this area at least. See Renny’s post on “It was Yule before it was Christmas”. Sounds like it would also fit into your studies, you might want to see Julenissen, the Norwegian Santaclaus as well.

  6. Interesting! Your post completes Renny’s perfectly.

    DianeCA: Or does his complete mine hehehe!

  7. I was about to comment on the sex of the figureheads when I saw the last photo. Why do they prefer lady figureheads? Some guys are macho. hehe…

    I believe they chose women to inspire them to return home from their sailing!

  8. I would have loved to visit such a museum ! How interesting. When I looked at the figure with the spot between the eyes I first thought “what a shame somebody shot her just between the eyes” lol !

    DianeCA: I admit its an ugly mark, but at the same time I found that one very fascinating because so many were compelled to touch her for luck, that means they really believed in her powers…and after all she did survive longer then they did.

  9. That is awesome! I havent been there yet. I will try to ask my father or Odd about it.

    DianeCA: You will get a chance to see this, and I hope you will look us up when you are in Oslo too!

  10. […] Walking around with me and Olga in the museum, she found more interesting things to see so go visit her post and see this adventure through her […]

  11. That is so fascinating! What an interesting way to spend a rainy afternoon.

    : It is very convenient living just outside the capital because there is alway something interesting to do here.

  12. I had never saw so many beautiful prows in the same time! i would like to visit this museum!
    So you make me think there is a maritime museum in Toulon, a town near Ollioules that I could visit too!

    If you visit that one you will have to take pictures for us so we can see your adventures too!

  13. what I think is most fascinating with those ones, is all the things that they have gone through! such rough lives! *whistles*

    Yet, they’re still wonderful.

    Actually I thought of you when I was photographing. Both because your blog has a mermaid figure on it (which is a common form for Prows) and because you love to travel!

  14. Isn’t it funny how they’ve survived when some of the ships haven’t?

    DianeCA: I am happy they were preserved for me to admire at least. The craftsmanship and artistry is amazing.

  15. Wow! That was all so fascinating. My favorites were the Virgin Guardians of the sea, Very beautiful. 🙂

    DianeCA: I also thought the ones I called Virgin Guardians were especially beautiful! I would have liked to see the ship they watched over.

  16. Those figureheads are wonderful!! I love your shots and the ones you took for Renny’s post.

    yesssssssss finally credit for my photography on Renny’s blog! Since I am the one back the camera and he is in front of it hehehe.

  17. They are all so beautiful. I loved your post, very informative and I learned a lot. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    I always thought good old wooden sailing ships were very romantic, and especially the prow figures were inspiring.

  18. hello there im here from Mr Renny your nice husband to say hi all the way from Chicago 🙂

    you have a nice and interesting content just like your hubby. keep it and have a nice day 🙂

  19. Great pictures! I particularly like the exotic lady. I love figureheads, I shall have to visit the museum next time I’m in Oslo (is it in Oslo?).

  20. Oh definitely I will be glad to finally meet you since I only met Renny in person.

  21. Dear Diane,
    you know I was born and grew up close to the Norwegian Maritim Museum (and the other Famous Museums at Bygdøy, Oslo).
    That’s why your post is so important for me.
    What I took for granted, is not obvious for others.
    You know, as a kid, I did visit all the unique museums out there – several times a year.
    It means, the Norwegian Maritime and Folklore history is an important part of me.

    I’m so happy to see you again only some few days from now.

  22. […] Walking around with me and Olga in the museum, she found more interesting things to see so go visit her post and see this adventure through her […]

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