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08.06.2021

Tjangvide image stone

The image of the Tjängvide stone is a stone that is located about three kilometers west of Ljägarn, Gotland, Sweden.

The inscription on the Tjängvide stone is carved on a flat slab of limestone 1.7 meters high, 1.2 meters wide and 0.3 meters thick. The stone was discovered in 1844 on the Tängvide farm and is in the Swedish National Antiquities Museum in Stockholm.  The stone is probably of pagan origin, as no traces of Christian elements were found on the inscription.

The stone is decorated with several figures in the upper and lower fields, which are separated by a woven pattern resembling a valnut. The upper field shows a large eight-legged horse and a small rider to whom a woman offers a horn to drink, and there are some other figures, such as a four-legged animal and some less discernible images. 

The rider on his horse is usually identified with Odin on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir or the dead man who arrives at Valhalla on Odin's horse. The female figure is identified as a Valkyrie. 

There are also alternative interpretations of the images. One interpretation, based on the Volsung saga, is that the rider is Sigurd, who rides on the Border (a descendant of Sleipnir), and the welcoming woman is either Brunhild or Grimhild, who welcomes Sigurd to the court of the Gyukungs. This story was popular during the Viking Age and is depicted on other runic stones and image stones known as Sigurd's stones. It is also possible that the eight legs symbolize the horse's high speed and that the rider is a living man greeted by his wife. The man standing behind the woman seems to be holding a bow, and he may represent a dead man hunting, and the four-legged man may be his dog.

The lower margin of the stone is almost entirely filled with an image of a long ship with a high stern and stern. The width of the sail is almost equal to the length of the ship. 

It has been noted that the image stone of Tjangvide has a phallic shape and that similar combinations of death with erotic symbolism are found on other stones with runes and images of Gotland.

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