The Old World in the New

Mangle Board (Mangletre)

Mangleboard Mangle Board (Mangletre)
Maker unknown, 1806
Wood, paint
Little Norway Collection, Gift of Raymond & Margaret Vicker Charitable Trust
MHAHS 2014.073.0025

This object is an extraordinary example of the way Norwegians produced beautifully crafted practical household items. The mangle board, or mangletre, was made with a flat finished bottom and a carved painted top.  When used in combination with a kind of rolling pin, a woman could iron her family’s linens.

Centuries-old cultural signs can be seen in the mangle board’s decorations.  The overall landscape scene includes many European symbols and stories that were widely shared long before this board was made. Some specific signs linked to the blessing of a marriage are in the form of animals: swans (eternal love) and storks (childbirth). So, too, the figure of a horse (used here as a handle) was a long-time symbol of strength and virility throughout Scandinavia. Orange, green, yellow, red, and blue added depth and vibrancy.


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