Friday, 16 September 2011

Personifications, history.

Here's the rest of the cards I've purchased over the spring-summer. They are mostly about the independence and how awesome it was to get some.

This first card has the national bird, and this was actually one of the suggestions for the flag. A new one was sorely needed because no one can have independence under someone else's flag, and the suggestions were open to everyone. Naturally the turnout was huge, some artists submitting several of their ideas. The school kids today can thank their good luck that they'll only have to learn to draw the cross flag and not this one, not to mention the handball fans have far easier time colouring their faces.

I bought this one slightly for the lols but also but the historical details. One rarely sees that tent depicted on a viking ship. It was sorely needed against the elements as you can guess, but even so the only way to stay warm was to row. Even the captain of the ship took time at the oars as it was not considered in any way an inferior thing to do, rather helped to get your blood flowing.

The corners depict the four monsters than protect Iceland. Reykjavík, being on the southwest corner, is protected by a gigantic bull, and clockwise around the island the next quarter belongs to a huge golden eagle, the next one to a dragon and the last one to a giant. They're also on Iceland's coat-of-arms and the lore goes that they protect Iceland against danger from the sea.

In fact, before there was any independence and any flag competitions, there already was this flag. It was like the Danish one but blue, and as such it was a slap in the face of the current ruler, being so obviously not a Danish flag. It was very popular but eventually Icelanders scrapped the idea because apparently it looked too much like the Greek flag of the time. Interestingly when Finland gained independence, the flag suggestion sent by Gallen-Kallela was exactly this same one and it was vetoed for the very same reason.

Interestingly #2: Icelanders also considered a flag that was very close to what officially became the Finnish flag only three years later! Our flag did make its first appearances a looong time before, but like the Icelandic "Blue Flag" it was more to protest against being ruled by another country.

I collect depictions of this early flag of Iceland by the way, so if you have any send them all to meeee~

(Pictures can all be clicked bigger.)
I bought this card for the image of Fjallkonan (personification of Iceland, the "Mountain Lady") on it and then later on noticed it had a poem inside it as well. Never crossed my mind to slip it out of its plastic file to open it, so I just think of it as a bonus.

Starting from the top: the card notes three important years on the left - the finding of the country in 874, the start of the first parliament in the world in 930 and becoming a Christian country in 1000. On the right there are years for celebrating these things a thousand years afterwards, so that Christianizing celebration must have been simple predicted by the artist, considering how old this card is.

The smoke coming out of her head makes the letters F J A L L and her diadem says KONAN. Just in case it wasn't obvious enough I guess. She seems to be wearing a whole dress of chainmail and is flanked by the four protective monsters so she looks suitably ferocious here. I'm not sure of the flower which she holds though. It could be a mutant-large forget-me-not, and that flower would indeed suit a card like this very well since it's all about remembrance anyway.

Her scroll says, if I read it correctly:
Hja mjer

The text going around her says:
Aldrei blandast of nje/mje van um þig kvæða lofið
Fræga landið - Fjallkonan flestum  gæðum ofið

I would need a little bit help with the translations if any Icelanders are present... -.-

This card got easily all my attention. The seller puts aside cards for me if they have the Blue Flag, but this one wasn't among them. Understandably so: the text on the back is printed in both Danish and Icelandic and there's a lady dressed up as an elf lady for the New Year, what's so appropriate?

Well, just that black and white photos do funny things to colours. If that were a red flag it would be much darker, as anyone who's seen a bXw photo of the Norwegian flag could tell. Blue turns out light grey, however, and in Iceland dressing up as the Fjallkonan is far more common than dressing up as some elf - not to mention it's always been patriotic to the boot.

I'd also like to point out one more detail - this flag is home-made. It's not done according to the standards of the Dannebrog. The split in the middle does not go in this manner in the real thing, the white cross is never split in the Danish Splitflag. However, the split version of the Blue Flag is split this way! The Danish Splitflag was also never used in this manner because it's always been an army flag, and as such I have some serious doubts it could ever have been used as a fancy dress prop and printed on cards... ergo, I have some feeble hopes that the flag is actually the Blue Flag and the whole picture is rather more patriotic than first meets the eye.

One more Fjallkonan, I collect her too since I love personifications so much! The card simply states "Gleðilegt Sumar", "Joyous Summer". She'a seated with her trademark scroll and a harp, and has that star over her that she tends to have. (Btw check the headdress of the lady in the previous card.)

This fjallkonan seems to be sitting atop a glacier and is possibly flanked by some rather famous Icelandic landmarks. The waterfall looks very much like Aldeyjarfoss with its strange basalt formations, and the rock formation to the left could be from Dyrhólaey. Please correct me if I'm totally wrong here, I'd love to learn more about my collection. 

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