Important Finnish ryijy with impeccable provenance. This one-off Finnish ryijy dated ‘1937’ was made for exhibition at the Exposition Internationale in Paris, 1937, by the multi-talented and prolific Finnish artist Greta Skogster-Lehtinen (1900-1994 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greta_Skogster) where she won several awards, and then in following years gifted to her friend the celebrated Finnish designer and metal and glass artist Gunnel Nyman (1909-1948 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunnel_Nyman) who subsequently passed it down to her daughter. It was then sold by her ‘anonymously’ at auction four years ago (2018) when it passed into our hands, but its exact provenance has only come to light very recently. It is dated across the top where it has several stylised ‘running animal’ figures while the wide outer border elsewhere has two repeating motifs, and the central design is of various shaped stylised motifs. It is hand made of wool with lovely mellow dyes and is in excellent condition and the design is named ‘Ristilukki’ (or in English ‘Cross Spider’).
The first ryijy / rya’s originated in the early fifteenth century as coarse, heavy covers used by mariners instead of furs. From the late 1700’s onwards the rugs evolved to be lighter and more colourful and to become more traditionally used as bed or ‘sofa’ covers, and also to being displayed on a wall or floor. They can be seen as traditional Scandinavian wool ‘rugs’ and have a long pile – often ‘shaggy’ – and usually between 2.5cm to 5cm (1 to 2 inches) in length.