Friday, December 14, 2018

It is a thing

OK, I give up, so I'm going to share this mystery with readers and appeal for help. These photos show an implement (?) ... oh, ok, lets just say a thing...  that my dad picked up recently at an auction sale.

It consists of a two-winged plane of wood, elaborately carved on the upper side, and mounted on a plain wooden pole, about 1.5 meters in length, tapering to a slightly pointed end.

At the auction-room a man who had "seen one before" said that it was a "Scandinavian marriage axe", which my dad inferred meant a ceremonial "axe" used in some wedding ritual. He was thinking about these lines in the Elder Edda about Thor's axe-hammer Mjollnir:

Bring in the hammer  to hallow the bride;
On the maiden's knees  let Mjollnir lie

(from the Thrymskvitha)

It's a good theory, except that our researches have failed to turn up any evidence whatever for the existence of such a ritual. Besides, in the Edda story, the bride at this giant's wedding turns out to be Thor himself in disguise -- you can guess what happens next.

And actually, it doesn't really seem like a Scandinavian object. The floristic carving  reminds me especially of the highland art of the Podhale region of southern Poland (Zakopane area), but I could credit an origin anywhere in central Europe.

On the side of the "blade" is some writing:


Except the N is backwards, like a Cyrillic I. So is the first line (name?) written in Cyrillic,, even though the second line (name?) is definitely in the Roman alphabet?

So yet more mystery. And now over to you! Where is it from, what sort of date, what does the inscription mean, and above all, what is it?

I can't see how it could be a practical tool, and there are no signs of wear. Is it something churchly or Masonic? Is it something carried in a procession? But if so, why is the principal decoration on the topside, where a bystander wouldn't see it?


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