Tau cross (1)

Wallengren, Peter Magnus

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum

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.

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  • Title: Tau cross (1)
  • Creator: Wallengren, Peter Magnus
  • Date Created: 1845/1854
  • Location: Ystad
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 13.4 cm, Width: 9.4 cm, Depth: 1.4 cm
  • Medium: Stamped silver-gilt set with red pastes

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