After traveling around Norway for four days, we made our way back to Oslo. Our first stop was the Viking Ship Museum. We were accompanied by a great guide, Wendy, from Taiwan. She is a fantastic story-teller. I thought I had kept her words in mind, but unfortunately, I didn't. Well, let me give a brief introduction of the history and culture of the Vikings after doing some quick research:
The Viking Age in Scandinavia lasted from 800 A.D. to 1050 A.D. They are known for savage rampage as well as their technological advancements and highly-developed crafts, especially in terms of ship-making and navigation. Craftsmen enjoyed a high social status back then. Wood works such as ships were decorated with complicated designs. Take Oseberg, the ship in the photo above, for example. Animal totems like intertwined horses, snakes and birds can be found on the bow.
Before Christianity was introduced into North Europe, the locals buried the deceased with grave offerings which varied according to their social positions. Affluent and powerful people were usually put into complete ships, and like in ancient China, there was also the custom of burying people alive as part of the offerings.
Three ships are on display in the museum. Oseberg, in the photo above, was dated back to 820 A.D. It was excavated in Vestfold County in the southwest of Oslo, about 1.5 hour-drive away. Apart from the ships, sledges, horse carts, a bed, wood carvings and textiles were also found at the excavation site.
In summery Oslo, the cherry trees and chestnut trees at roadsides have borne fruit. People walk and sit under the sun to enjoy summer days. In Vigelandsparken, you can have the blue sky, white clouds and green meadow all at once.
And there are also 212 awesome sculptures in the park, which were almost entirely made by the artist Gustav Vigeland. He also designed the layout of the whole park.
The major theme of the park is about human life, struggle and emotions. We entered from the back, so we were first greeted by the Wheel of Life, which is a sundial positioned at the end of the park. It represents the eternity, with four adult figures and a baby in a circle floating in harmony.
This is the door featuring the female body.
The Monolith is the highlight of the park. The column is 14 meters high, carved in one single stone. It is made up of 121 intertwined human figures desiring to reach the divine.
Vigeland, along with three other stone carvers, took fourteen years to finish the piece.
Around the monolith are thirty-six sculptures based on three stages of the human life, which are respectively the young age, the adulthood, and the old age. The mother in the photo is bidding her adult daughter farewell before her wedding.
The look in the angry girl's eyes is so vivid.
The Fountain is also a focal point. Wendy said that from the Wheel of Life to the Fountain, the theme is expanded from an individual's life to that of a nation. For example, the flowing water in the fountain symbolizes the riches that the government would like to share with its people.
The fountain is surrounded by sixty bronze sculptures telling the stories of every phase from life to death.
The girl entering her teens is full of confusion and fear.
The bottom of the fountain is decorated with more bronze reliefs.
Worried adult woman.
Will we conquer fear or the other way round?
As we stepped on the bridge that leads from the fountain to the gate, the heart-piercing music of the street performer made the visit even more unforgettable.
There are fifty-eight sculptures along the side railings of the bridge. Wendy said that Vigeland tended to portray women as sturdy.
The iconic bronze statue "The Angry Boy" was once stolen in the 1990s. As for the golden hand, it resulted from too many visitor's wanting to hold his hand while taking photos.
I didn't stop wowing at Vigeland's creativity and prolific works along the way. He spent more than twenty years from 1921 to 1943 creating the park. He also donated his sculptures to the city, each of which spoke to me. Not until we reached the entrance of the gate did we got to meet him. Though his upper body was covered in bird droppings, I still admire him all the same!