This art deco brooch has a characteristic symmetrical shape and sharp colour contrast. The floral ornamentation is stylized, but to recognise as the branches of a rowan, a common tree in Swedish forests.
In 1921, when Märtha Af Ekenstam designed this rowan brooch, coral and ivory were very fashionable and matched the exact colours of the orange-red berry and the white blossom. Nowadays, the use of these organic materials is restricted to protect wildlife.
The oval shape is divided into four sections by a motif reminiscent of ancient Celtic heirlooms. To the Celts, the rowan was a sacred tree.
ROSACEAE Sorbus Aucuparia or the rowan tree can be found in a variety of habitats. This shrub or tree is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, and it endures cold. The pinnate leaves and the dense corymbs of creamy white flowers are typical, but the tree is mostly known for its fruit. The pome, or berry, is a traditional wild-collected food.
’Rowan’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘runa’, meaning ‘wizard’. ‘Aucuparia’ is derived from the Latin ‘aucupor’, meaning bird catching. The berry of the rowan tree is soft, juicy and thus very popular among birds.
Oh rowan tree, oh rowan tree,
Thou’lt aye be dear to me,
Entwined thou art wi mony ties,
O’ hame and infancy.
Thy leaves were aye the first o’ spring,
Thy flow’rs the simmer’s pride;
There was nae sic a bonny tree
In a’ the countrieside
Oh rowan tree.
How fair wert thou in simmer time,
Wi’ a’ thy clusters white
How rich and gay thy autumn dress,
Wi’ berries red and bright.
On thy fair stem were many names,
Which now nae mair I see,
But they’re engraven on my heart.
Forgot they ne’er can be!
Oh rowan tree.
We sat aneath thy spreading shade,
The bairnies round thee ran,
They pu’d thy bonny berries red,
And necklaces they strang…
Lyrics by Carolina Oliphant, 1822