WOOD SPECIES AND THE QUESTION OF ORIGIN: REASSESSING THE SCULPTURE PRODUCTION IN THE DIOCESE OF TURKU (ÅBO) DURING THE 14TH CENTURY
This paper deals with choices of wood species in the 14th century
polychrome sculptures in the diocese of Turku (Åbo), Finland, the
easternmost part of the Swedish Realm in the Middle Ages. The aim of
the article is to draw an overall picture of the wood use in sculpture
and discuss the emergence of the local workshops in the diocese.
This is done by presenting new wood definitions and by taking these
into account the when analysing the sculptures’ style and form.
The emphasis on the research is on sculptures previously defined
as carved from birch and which thus are determined as Finnish or
Nordic of their origin. The methods for defining the wood species
have been ocular observation and microscopy analysis. The choice
of wood is approached from the perspective of the wood species
availability in the area and suitability for carving. The results of the
investigation indicate that in addition to oak, and instead of birch,
particularly alder (Alnus) was used in the locally manufactured sacral
sculptures, and in some cases using oak sculptures as models. Alder
was possibly favored due to its good availability and inexpensiveness
as well as workability. It can, however not be ruled out, that sculptures
of alder may have been imported to the bishopric as well.