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The Five Virgins Wise and the Other Five Foolish


fig. 1 The making of a Foolish Virgin

The Wise and Foolish Virgins are a favorite figurative subject of Scandinavian tapestry and folk painting from the 17th & 18th c. In the Biblical parable, the Wise and Foolish Virgins, undifferentiated, await the Bridegroom outside the Manor House. After a long wait, the sun goes down and all the Virgins bring out their lamps. After another long wait, the Bridegroom is seen approaching. At this time the lamps of about half the Virgins begin to smoke and go out. They hadn't planned on the long wait, so didn't bring enough oil. The wise, plan-ahead Virgins did. The foolish others hurry off to town to buy some more oil, but while they are gone, of course, the Bridegroom cometh.

He sweeps the Virgins with plenty of oil for their lamps into the Manor house with him, and locks the gate. The wedding is in full swing by the time the other girls get back. They see they are locked out, and lament.

A curious story, and a lovely subject for a tapestry, with "five virgins wise and the other five foolish" lined up like paper dolls, each in a fancy outfit, all smiles or frowns.

In my Foolish Virgins rugs, I have focused on the fancy-dress part of the parable. They are adorned with flirty fringes and poufy poms. They are all about the dress-up, not the laying in of supplies. My heart is really with those foolish girls.

-Susan Johnson



fig. 2 Norwegian 17th c. tapestry (detail)

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts permanent collection

 

 

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© 2010 Avalanche Looms • susan@avalanchelooms.com

Avalanche Looms - Farmstore and Weaving Workshop. Scandinavian Design Rag Rugs. Susan Johnson.
Avalanche Looms - Farmstore and Weaving Workshop. Scandinavian Design Rag Rugs. Susan Johnson.
Avalanche Looms - Farmstore and Weaving Workshop. Scandinavian Design Rag Rugs. Susan Johnson.
Avalanche Looms - Farmstore and Weaving Workshop. Scandinavian Design Rag Rugs. Susan Johnson.