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Tau cross

  • Place of origin:

    Ystad (made)
    Herrestad (worn)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wallengren, Peter Magnus, born 1802 - died 1884 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stamped silver-gilt set with red pastes

  • Museum number:

    377-1886

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 70, shelf C, box 4

Although traditional jewellery was worn throughout Sweden, and has a distinct Swedish character, there are marked differences between the different provinces. Skåne province, in the extreme south of Sweden, has the richest tradition, and more jewellery was worn there than in any other district. Almost all the Swedish traditional jewellery at the V&A comes from Skåne.

When Sweden became Protestant in 1527, Swedish women continued to wear crosses rich with symbolism and religious pendants like their medieval predecessors. The most typical Swedish cross is the tau (T-shaped) cross, also called the cross of St Anthony, from Skåne. Sweden is the only country which has tau crosses among its traditional jewellery.

The oldest tau crosses were made from solid metal. In the late 18th century the silversmiths of Kristianstad started to mass produce these crosses from two sheets of thin stamped silver, soldered together round the edge, with a chain trimming to cover the joint. The silversmiths of Ystad retaliated by copying the popular Kristianstad patterns in their own heavier one-piece style. The back of Ystad crosses, like this one, is always flat. Many pieces of Swedish traditional jewellery use the renaissance motif of an angel's head with wings. The hollow ball below the loop is also typical of Swedish traditional jewellery.

This cross is marked with the Ystad griffin mark, and the maker's mark P.W. Peter Magnus Wallengren was a leading silversmith in Ystad, who specialised in making traditional jewellery from 1830 to 1879. The red glass stones are typical of Swedish traditional jewellery of all kinds in the 19th century.

Physical description

Tau cross pendant with a stamped image of the crucifixion, set with red pastes, with a winged angel's head above. Ten (originally eleven) disc pendants round the sides and base. The suspension loop is attached to a hollow sphere above the angel's head.

Place of Origin

Ystad (made)
Herrestad (worn)

Date

ca. 1850 (made)

Artist/maker

Wallengren, Peter Magnus, born 1802 - died 1884 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Stamped silver-gilt set with red pastes

Marks and inscriptions

'P.W'
Mark of Peter Magnus Wallengren of Ystad, Skåne
Stamped twice, on the front edge below the winged cherub's head, and on the front edge at the side of the flared lower part of the cross, opposite the town mark.

griffin in square frame
Town mark of Ystad
Stamped twice, on the front edge below the winged cherub's head, and on the front edge at the side of the flared lower part of the cross, opposite the maker's mark.

Dimensions

Height: 13.4 cm, Width: 9.4 cm, Depth: 1.4 cm

Descriptive line

Silver-gilt tau cross (striglakors) set with red pastes, with pendant discs, Skåne (Sweden), 19th century.

Materials

Silver-gilt; Pastes

Subjects depicted

Tau cross; Angel

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Christianity; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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