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Master woodcarvers from Sør-Audnedal
Some of the best of the Woodcarvers craft which have been done in miniature and found in Norway came from Sør-Audnedal. The articles from the five old masters from Sør-Audnedal are of excellent quality and are prolific in the choice of materials,fantasy and design. This together with the fact that the everyday articles are of the highest quality. The carved knives, boxes and leather articles are typical of the woodcarvers from Sør-Audnedal. Tarald and Elias Louen also made leather wallets. They all made lionshead knives and the knife sheaves were carved out of solid wood from the hollybush tree. This type of knife was chosen in 1992 as the Vest-Agder knife.
TARALD LOUEN (1825 - 1901): Tarald Louen was born at Lauen in Hægbostad where the origins of the knife and woodcarving tradition came from in Sør-Audnedal. He was probably lived a short time in Telernark before he came to Sør-Audnedal settling in a little place called Odden by Liansvannet. The struggle to make a living meant that he made the finest kvives, caskets and boxes he could think of. The lionshead knives were typical of Tarald Louen. It is thought that Louen in Danish times was spelt Løwen. Tarald Louen taught his son Elias Louen, Nils Torp and Gustav Vigeland. Work carried out by Tarald Louen was especially imaginative.
ELIAS LOUEN (1865 - 1954): Elias Louen spent his childhood at Odden by Liansvannet. Later he married and moved to a crofters house in Herstøl which is also by Liansvannet. Elias Louen has been the most prolific of the wood carvers. Elias Louens work is to be found all over the country. Several objects have also been found in America and Germany. Elias Louen was the son of Tarald Louen, his friends were Nils Torp and Gustav Vigeland. Elias Louen was a skilful fiddle player as was his father. Music collector Arne Bjørndalen wrote down several lovely tunes by Elias Louen.
GUSTAV VIGELAND (1869 - 1943): Gustav Vigeland was born at Halse in Mandal which borders onto the old town. Gustav Vigelands relatives on both sides going back to catholic times have come from Sør-Audnedal. His youth was spent on the farm at Mjunebrokka in Vigeland. While he lived there he became an apprentice with Tarald Louen at Herstøl. Several of Gustav Vigelands finest wood carvings are still to be found in Lindesnes and Mandal. Gustav Vigeland is known worldwide for his Vigelands project in Oslo. The inspiration for Monolitten came when he thought of how the tightly carved knife handles were carved in Herstøl. Vigeland has among other things made a bust of Tarald Louen. Many of his ideas have come from Lindesnes and Mandal.
NILS TORP (1870 - 1926): Nils Torp was more conservative than the other woodcarvers from Sør-Audnedal. His work was of the highest quality. Several examples of Nils Torps work can be found in the district. Among other things is a miniature box made jointly by Nils Torp and Gustav Vigeland. A path from Nils Torps home by Fasselandsvannet that goes up to Herstøl was used so much by Nils Torp that folk nicknamed it Nils Torp Road.
LARS BIRKELAND (1857 - 1920): Lars Birkeland was chiefly known for large decorative works, one of them being at Hald in Mandal. He also made galleon figures for sailing ships. He was also very clever at carving top quality miniatures, he carved knives, caskets and boxes.