Tau cross

Bleckberg, Niclas the elder

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum
London, United Kingdom

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 Skåne started to experiment with new styles and methods of manufacture. The glass stones on this cross were originally set over red foil, but the colour has now completely vanished. Many pieces of Swedish traditional jewellery use the renaissance motif of an angel's head with wings.

This cross is marked with the Swedish 'cat's paw' silver mark, the circular town mark of Karlshamn, and the maker's mark NB. Niclas Bleckberg the elder was a silversmith who specialised in making traditional jewellery in Karlshamn, from before 1799 to 1806.

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  • Title: Tau cross
  • Creator: Bleckberg, Niclas the elder
  • Date Created: 1795/1804
  • Location: Karlshamn
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 14.0 cm, Width: 10.7 cm, Depth: 0.8 cm
  • Medium: Stamped silver with filigree overlay, set with two pastes

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