The cognitive meanings of animal ornamentation. Animal ornamentation and skaldic poetry c. 350-1150 AD.

Project: Dissertation

Layman's description

Central to my doctors thesis is the question of the symbolic or cognitive meanings of the scandinavian animal ornamentation in a long term perspective. Of special interest is the possible relation between the images and their compositions on the one hand, and verbal expressions in the early medieval skaldic poetry on the other.

For a period of about 800 years some objects were decorated with animallike beings whose bodies were often knit together in more or less komplicated patterns. This animal ornamentation was one of the most characteristic artistic expressions of the late Iron Age. Despite stylistic variation in time and space, it is worth noting that craftsmen focused on sylised animals for such a long time. Objects embellished in this way probably had specific meanings for those who handeled them, but the meanings may have altered according to context and individual. Some people may have had a more profound knowledge about how to interpret them than others - not the least the craftsmen who made the objects.

The fact that animal ornamentation was produced från supposed pre-Christian to Christian time probably shows that any underlying meaning must have been approved of in pre-Christian as well as in Christian milieus. Meanings may also have shifted through time. In my thesis animal ornamentation is analysed in a long term perspective. Of special interest is an eventual relation between the images and their compositions in animal ornamentation and verbal expressions in early medieval skaldic poetry.
Effective start/end date2002/09/012012/12/31


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