Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/34837
Neither plant imagery nor depictions of the human form are rare in late Iron Age and early medieval Scandinavia. However, instances of a feminine, plant-bearing form are not common, and the figures have not yet been discussed in extant academic literature, despite appearing multiple times in various media. Through an art-historical study of this trope, I suggest that the plant-bearer represents a non-gendered being who performs femininity to ritually access liminal spaces. Through the lens of gender and queer theories, I explain the relevancy of perceived gender. Using performativity and iconography to analyze the plant-bearing figure found in a small assortment of selected depictions found on the Gotland stones, gold bracteates, and gold foil figures, subsequent analysis connects the plant-bearing figure with femininity—though not female gender—liminality, and knowledge. In addition to art-historical study, connections are made between the figures and femininity found in literature contemporary to the stones, linking the image with other records of late Iron age and early-medieval Scandinavian social activity. This research forms the foundation for future art-historical research on Iron Age and early medieval Scandinavia, providing insight into image making, social structure, and social performativity of local actors.
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