• Þjóðminjasafn  Íslands

Chest

artist unknown 1700

The old communal living room ( baðstofa) was a small personal space. It was often home to 10-12 people who slept in tight quarters, ate, did yarn work in the evening and listened to readings from the scripture. There were no closets or storage spaces in these rooms but most people had a small chest where they kept their personal items. Sometimes the chest had a secret compartment where the owner could store his more valuable items and money. The chest is made out of pine around 1700 and so it is 300 years old. It is completely carved out with sprouts and coils. The gables have four entwining coils. This particular carving has pine cones in the middle of the coils and thin branches and leaves that reach out from the main stem. There are other objects in the National Museum with this type of pattern. They all hail from the Westfjords although they were not necessarily all carved by the same hand.

 

But to whom did this beautiful chest belong? It just so happens that the chest has an inscription in höfðaletur (head letters) and the Roman alphabet: This chest belongs to Anna Þórðardóttir. In the 1703 census only one woman with that name was registered in the Westfjords. She was a housewife at Þorfinnsstaðir in Mosvallahreppur in the county of Vestur-Ísafjarðarsýsla and was born in 1671. The chest may not have belonged to her but we can be certain that such a beautiful chest did not belong to just any maid.

 

Þjms 14528

The National Museum of Iceland