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The Language of Rosemaling

Languages contain distinct dialects that reveal clues about a speaker's home. Rosemaling can be seen as a visual language with many dialects. In this blog post, Tara Austin ponders the language of rosemaling and its future evolution. 

Posted on April 17, 2024
by Tara Austin

Spending time in Sweden was an incredible opportunity that I am most thankful for. I was able to see many different regions in Sweden, from the northernmost in the arctic circle to the southern region, and the happy in-between of the Dalarna region. One of the perspectives that I love about traveling to different countries is the change of language. It was so refreshing to hear Swedish conversations and interpret signage and packaging. I have been envious of being able to speak more than one language; I think it is a beautiful way to use the mind and I am glad to see cultural shifts towards bilingualism.

In my travels it came up in conversation that different regions in Sweden have different dialects and pronunciations, a telltale sign of where someone is from.  This concept relates to rosemaling in my mind. Rosemaling could be looked at as the visual cultural language of Norway, and the stylistic changes are the regional dialect. If you are from Gudbrandsdal, you know the language of the acanthus leaf; the Telemark region speaks the language of naked scrolls and joyful flowers, and so on. 

In my own rosemaling, I understand that I am not from Norway, and I question how can I speak the language in an authentic way?  What parts of the language of rosemaling are traditional and must stay intact? What forms can we breath 21st century life into to keep the visual language fresh and forge into the future? These are the thoughts ruminating in my studio since starting a new series of painted plates and bowls using traditional milk paint and oil painted ornament.

These plates and bowls are looking for new homes; just send me an email at for more information and pricing.   

You can learn the language of rosemaling at North House—find all rosemaling courses, including courses taught by Tara, here.