Wooden sculptures are unique objects. Sculptures depicting persons can be reliefs, busts or full sculptures. The oldest wooden sculptures in the museum’s collections are medieval sculptures depicting Catholic saints. Some of the medieval sculptures of saints were made in Finland, but many are from Central Europe. The sculptures tell about medieval internationalism and cultural connections, including here in Finland.
Medieval sculptures of saints were not only works of art, but they also conveyed Christian traditions and stories. At the same time, sculptures depicting saints brought art to ordinary people. They were colourful and decorated, unlike many everyday objects belonging to ordinary people. The sculptures usually contain a detail that associates them with a particular saint or story about a saint. In this way, the saints and the related Christian teachings and stories became familiar to churchgoers.
The museum’s collections also include other wooden sculptures related to faith and beliefs. Some of the objects involve stories recorded about the power of the holy object and its impact on people’s lives. There are also objects we know nothing about, and we can only speculate as to the significance they have for their makers. Wood has been used as a material to depict holy figures for thousands of years.