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Category  10 -  Olaus Magnus - History of the Nordic Peoples (from 1555) - Illustrations with comments - Page 3

Illustrationer med förklaringar till Olaus Magnus "Historia om de nordiska folken" (utgiven år 1555)


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Book 2, Ch. 27. On Rocks Decorated with Helmets.

The woodcut shows a natural harbour in the archipelago outside Stockholm. This place has since the 16th Century been an anchorage for the Swedish Navy. To the left the island of Gubbholmen with five rocks that according to Olaus Magnus look like helmets. To the right the island of Älvsnabben with the cape of Jutnabben. At top Muskö. The animals are hares. Note that north is
on the right side of this map, west at top etc
. 1300 x 600 px.

Book 2 Ch. 28.On Narrow Passages when Approaching Harbour.

This part of Sweden is seen from the east. The castle at the upper right corner is Stockholm. The large island is Värmdö. Smaller ships can sail the short but narrow passage (Baggenstäket) in the middle of the woodcut to reach Stockholm. Larger ships have to sail the long and difficult route north of Värmdö trough the archipelago. The land area south of Baggenstäket is Södertörn, where three rune stones are seen.
 1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 29. On Stony and Narrow Shipping Routes.

The woodcut shows a coastline with many dangerous rocks in the sea. Probably is scene from a part of the archipelago of Tjust on the east coast of Sweden.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 2, Ch. 30. On Different Shapes of Shore Cliffs.

North is at bottom and south is at top of this woodcut. The bay is Bråviken and the town at its end is Norrköping. The river floating trough the town is Motala Ström. A salmon swims upstreams. Strange cliff formations are seen on the north shore. Eleven dots symbolizing iron mines are seen in the south.
1300 x 600 px.
 Book 2, Ch. 32. On Bauta Memorial Stones and Veins of Water.

The picture is dominated by three hills with rune stones at their tops. Below springs continuing in streams, two of them with watermills.
1300 x 600 px.
Large size - high resolution
Book 3, Ch. 1. On the Heathen Lithuanians Idolatrous.

The woodcut shows praying people and two altars, one with a snake and one with a fire.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 3, Ch. 2. On Idolatrous Among the People of the Arctic Region.

Four persons are praying in front of a cloth on a pole. Around the pole animal bones from burnt offerings are seen. We also see the moon, the sun, a bird, animals and a fish – all things that the people worship.  1300 x 600 px
Book 3, Ch. 3. On the three Main Gods of the Geats.

To the left Frigg with sword and bow. In the middle Tor (Thor) with crown and spire sitting on a throne. To the right Oden (
Odin) heavily armed.
1300 x 600 px
Book 3, Ch. 4.On three Lesser Gods.

It is not easy to identify which gods the woodcut allude to. Perhaps they are from left to right: Methotin (with a skull on his head), Rostiophus and Frö.
 1300 x 600 px
Book 3, Ch. 5 On Punishments that Falls Upon the Lesser Gods.

To the left the armed Oden (
Odin), in the middle Tor (Thor) and to the right a god of the Byzantium. A dog is sleeping in the background.
1300 x 600 px.

Book 3, Ch. 6. On the Glorious Temple Devoted to the Nordic Gods.

The woodcut illustrates the temple
at Old Uppsala which was devoted to the Gods of the Aesis cult. Olaus Magnus writes that it shimmers with a golden lustre. From the golden roof hangs a golden chain which is winding all around the building. To the right a spring in which a person is going to be drowned as a sacrifice. 1300 x 600 px.
Book 3, Ch. 7. On the Geats’ Worship and Sacrifice.

Two humans are sacrificed on this picture. One is drowned in a holy spring and one is burned. The man with a sword symbolizes probably another way of sacrificing of humans. To the right worshipping people. 1300 x 600 px.

Book 3, Ch. 8. On the Geats’ Superstitious Notions of Thunder.

The men hear thunder in the sky. They believe that their holy gods are attacked by other gods. Therefore they shoot arrows up into the sky help their gods in the fight. 1300 x 600 px.

Book 3, Ch. 9. On Fights with the Gods.

The warriors are not satisfied how their warfare is proceeding. They accuse their gods of not give them enough support. Therefore they threaten the gods with arms.1300 x 600 px.

Book 3, Ch. 10. On Fairies and the Maids of the Woods.

A king (Höder) is visiting a cave where Maids of the Woods are living. They are powerful and he wants their support. Two of the maids are crowned. 1300 x 600 px.

Book 3, Ch. 11. On Nocturnal Dance of Fairies, in Other Words Ghosts.

Six creatures, their appearance probably inspired by the look of fauns etc in other cultures, dance around a circle. One creature is playing a string instrument and another bag pipe
1300 x 600 px
Book 3, Ch. 12. On Combat with Sirens of the Wood (Skogsrån).

To the left the king Gorm, Broder and Buke which have travelled so far north that no daylight could be seen. At this place they get attacked by the supernatural creatures to the right on the woodcut. 1300 x 600 px
Book 3, Ch. 13. On the Art of Prophecy.

The woodcut shows a soothsayer in front of a king. We can see some of the signs in the nature the soothsayer uses: stars, fishes and sounds from the mountains.
1300 x 600 px
Book 3, Ch. 14. On Erik Väderhatt (“Weatherhat”).

Erik Väderhatt was a Swedish king who could control the force and direction of the winds with his hat. It is he who leads the army to the right. The crowed hats to the left symbolizes his power to change the winds. In this case so the ship will go in his direction. 1300 x 600 px
Book 3, Ch. 15. On Women Skilled in Magic.

The witch to the right develops a terrible storm by emptying her pot with magic potion into the sea. A ship is wrecked in the storm. A man is holding her magic pole with a horse head on top. The moon is darkened by her magic force
1300 x 600 px

Book 3, Ch. 16. On Wizards and Magicians among the Finns.

The picture shows a scene from Finland where many of the inhabitants had magic forces. A speciality was to sell suitable winds to merchant sailors. The man to the right sells a rope with three knots to the captain of the ship. If you loose one knot, you get mild winds. Two knots gives stronger winds and three hard storms. The crew of the sinking ship in the background have not believed in this magic and loosed the third knot.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 3, Ch. 17. On Magic Utensils in Bothnia.

The woodcut shows the secret chamber of a Wizard in the Swedish province of Norrbotten. The wizard has manufactured a magic snake and a toad of copper at the anvil. This magic work has sent into a trance. His right hand is resting on a skull. Above him stands his wife, guarding him. A dragon is also seen near the window.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 3, Ch. 18. On Invocators of the Sea.

The magician Holler (also called Ull) stands on a bone from an animal. With help of this and the stick over his left shoulder he is able to travel across the seas. The stick seems to produce the necessary winds. On the shore (perhaps Iceland) a knight on a horse and a princess in a window.
1300 x 600 px
Book 3, Ch. 20. On the Fettered Wizard on the Island of Visingsö.

The woodcut shows Visingsö in Lake Vättern in Sweden. In a cave the Wizard Gilbert is fettered with two rune staffs. On the road to the left we see tow men with torches which are looking for the cave.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 3, Ch. 21. On the Punishment of Witches.

This woodcut illustrates a story of a witch from England, not from the North. As a punishment for her evil deeds, all her family died. In her despair, she asked to be buried alive. To the right we see the empty sarcophagus she was buried in and the three chains that sealed it. The grave was broken up and the devil now takes her away on his horse.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 3, Ch. 21. On the Service of Ghosts.

To the left a gnome who is cutting stones in the underground. In the middle a supernatural creature is working in a stable. At the bottom right corner a wind troll with passengers are going by boat without using sails. At the top left corner a witch riding backwards on a dragon. At the top right a coach is driving without horse.
  1300 x 600 px
Book 4, Ch. 1. (No title).

This woodcut shows the army of Tengild, the king of Finnmark. In the wintry landscape we see men riding reindeers, by foot or skiing. They are going into battle with Arngimm, allied with the king of Denmark, and his men.
1500 x 1600 px.
Book 4 Ch. 1. (No title). H

ere we see Arngrimm (with the crown) and his men which, to support the Danish king, defeated king Tengild of Finnmark and king Egbert of Bjarmaland in a hard battle.
1500 x 1600 px.
Book 4, Ch. 2. On the Wildness of the Dwellers in the Forests.

Laps in the Finnmark are defending themselves against seafarers they believe are pirates. The fire on the shore is a trick to get ships to run aground.
1300 x 600 px.
Book 4, Ch. 3. More on the Wildness of the Dwellers in Forests.

The woodcut shows three laps on skis and dressed in fur coats. They have risen their arms – two of them with bow and arrow and one with spear and some kind of sabre.
1300 x 600 px.

Olaus Magnus "Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus" (History of the Nordic Peoples), published in Rome 1555.


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© 2007 Lars Henriksson

Updated: 2008-01-13