Sunday, 3 July 2016

Museum Mission: Bellmanhuset (at Urvädergränd)

In 1723, a fire around Katarina kyrka eliminated most buildings there - but stopped at this house. Here, as we shall see, the famous songwriter Carl Michael Bellman resided for some years of his life with a companion - not really a servant, but a help with special status that for example could give him secret information about a society's secret doings - who's name is pronounced as Klas Pettersson (the spelling might be a little different). Bellman lived on the top floor, where he supposedly wrote most of his songs. His most productive years were the early 1770's, at the age of about 30 years. That fire, by the way, is supposed to be the remnant of Stockholm Bloodbath in 1520; two fires were predicted as a consequence of the blood and the remaining corpses, and one was that from the 1700's. The other and the last one is when Katarina church burned down 1990.
Behind this modest wall and door is a dug-out garden, transformed into a chamber with fine paintings and escutcheons. 
 Painted by the same man that worked for the Opera and that founded Par Bricole, a fraternal order which today consists of about 2,500 members and has 11 different steps to go through before the aforementioned coat of arms can be achieved and hung on the wall of this 8×12 m hall.
Here, I learned how candles could look like before.
The items exhibited are still in active use at different ceremonies.
The coat of arms each has a wording, which starts by the initials of the owner's name.
Bellman (and opera-related activities) is worshipped here, but it was not known until 1930 that he had resided in this building. This part of the house was not warm enough in the winter and not used as housing at first, so Bellman lived in the area to the left - not seen from here. Today, its colours are recreated as much as possible, a grey shade at the upper part with a white lower part.
Now in the summer it feels like a noble summerhouse. It is open to the public the first Sunday every month. 
You too can become a member, but insofar not as long as you are a woman. There are members which do not consider themselves as either, though, and that have been women before but have undergone surgery. A very interesting topic - brought up with me by a member himself.
So what do fraternities do? We were given an example of that first step into full membership performed by a fraternity with ancestry from the same epoque, but dissolved since long ago:
100-150 members are dining at one big table. The chosen member gets to go to an adjacent room, where there is another table at which a secretary, played by another member, pretends to write something. Yet another member takes the aspirant to the next room, where there is a sculptured volcano, Mount Etna, erupting (with some 1700's technology?). Behind it is a cyclope that jumps out. The member is handed bow and arrows to shoot the monster. He succeeds, upon which he gets to design his coat of arms: he has passed the test. He can now confidently return to the big table and hang it on the top of the others. As is common, this is a built-up peak, so everything falls down as he tries to put up the escutcheon. The 100 something members at the table pretend to be angry, and each pull his sabre (imagine the sound of the numerous blades). He then has to apologise, and only after that the entire first step is accomplished. 

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