Fässing -the shoulder bag

There is a stone carving on a medieval church in Gotland, Sweden, picturing a servant (?) carrying a sack over her shoulder

Stone carving (14th c) Martebo Church, Gotland, Sweden

The sack is today most commonly known to be closely linked to the traveling salesman, ‘knallar’, who was traveling around mid Sweden selling their merchandise since the 16th century, the merchandise was usually carried in a shoulder bag.

Traveling salesman 1912 (A. Strindberg) and a picture of a folk dress from Västergötland (unknown)

The word ‘Fässing‘ derives from the unique dialect (Månsing), used by Knallarna, and means approximately stuffed sack. Different spelling; fussing (1587), fässäng, fessäng (1749-1833), fästing (1772-1851). Some areas used the word fässing, or halm-fässing, as the word for a mattress (a bag stuffed with hay). Today most historical interested Swedes use fässing as the word for the shoulder bag, a spelling first seen around 1779.

The Swedish king , Gustavo II Adolf, decided that knallarna, the traveling salesmen, should be controlled (and, you know, actually pay tax), which is why the town of of Borås was founded 1621. Today the city has a high reputation in the Swedish textile industry, and the Borås Museum has a focus on the textile preservation, with many interesting exhibition about textile history. A couple of years back the museum made an exhibition about the history of Knallarna, and as a part of the reconstruction, they made a fässing;


2011 the Textile Fair in Toarp had a the theme ‘Knallar’ and one participant was wearing a Toarp dress with fabric, trims and a fässing;

Picture from toarpsdrakt.blogspot.se”>Toarpsdrakt.blogspot.se

There is some smaller varieties that can be seen; the opening can be either at one side on the bottom or in the middle so it’s “locked” while you carry the bag.

How to make a simple fässing bag;


…and the best part is that it folds down to nothing when travel between different events



One comment on “Fässing -the shoulder bag

  1. The Middlegate Key says:

    Reblogged this on The Middlegate Key.

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