Sue Prince - Narrative Folk Artist and Map Maker
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The original Bonader come from a very beautiful little place; Unnaryd in Southern Sweden.  If you would like to visit I can recommend Tina's B&B click here to see:

I can also thoroughly recommend the best fish shop and restaurant in Southern Sweden:

The Story of Bonader, Swedish Folk Art

In rural southern Sweden, in the late 1700s a tradition started of creating painted wall hangings to decorate the dark interiors of the small farmhouses during the winter nights around Christmas and other religious festivals.  These narrative paintings initially depicted Bible stories.  They were called 'bonader', meaning 'decorative wall hangings' (singular is bonad).  The word 'bona' means 'to make comfortable, to make warm'.  Bonader provided decoration and insulation, like a tapestry hanging.

Johannes Nilsson bonad

Johannes Nilsson bonad

Early Swedish bonader were created on linen, grown and woven locally, the painting surface was prepared from natural ingredients, probably a gesso-like substance; potato starch, egg and chalk, and the paint was egg tempera; natural pigments, ground and mixed with egg yolk and water. They are often several meters long.  Later (1800 to 1875) bonader were produced on paper.

After the festival the bonader were taken down, rolled up and stored until the next time.

They were aspirational paintings, even though rural life was a going through a depression; with rich costumes and well fed elegant people and horses.  In a naive style, they record many features of life from those times; the food, jobs, transport, house interiors. 

Unfortunately this art style has just about died out in Sweden, due to industrialisation and changes in fashion.  Bonader fell out of favour, when other folk arts and crafts were collected and valued.

The community in the village of Unnaryd, Halland, Sweden were very proud of the beautiful collection of local, historic bonader by Per Nilsson (1741-1820), Nils Persson (1772- 1836) Anders Andersson (1782-1865), Anders Eriksson and others.  Of particular note was Johannes Nilsson (1757-1827).  Johannes Nilsson suffered from epilepsy but was one of the most skilled and well regarded bonad painters in Southern Sweden.
The community raised money to create a custom built Bonadsmuseet (Museum for Bonader) in their Heritage Park.  Here is now stored and displayed a comprehensive display of local bonader including many of Johannes Nilsson's masterpieces.
Click here to see BonadsMuseet
Johannes Nilsson bonad
Dissertation by Jacob Thomas Goteburg University 


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