What is Sweden famous for? Think of IKEA, Abba, Volvo, Saab, Ingrid Bergman, meatballs, fermented herring, Nobel - the inventor of dynamite, Bofors - arms manufacturer AND Sakerhets Tandsticker.Before electricity lit up our lives in the kampung, we only had candles, pressure lamps, kerosene and charcoal stoves and matches were a very indispensable part of our domestic life.
Thanks to Sir Walter Raleigh, who introduced tobacco to civilize the world, matches also became a necessary accessory for social occasions, for making friends, and even for solitary reflection. Although smoking, of course, is now stigmatised and the electronic lighter has overtaken the match.
The original match, likened to a portable fire, was indeed easily combustible. Then in 1836 Gustav Erik Pasch created the safety match where it could be lit only when it was struck against the box. It was first manufactured in Jonkoping and from there match factories lit up all over the world.
Come to think of it, the Swedish-created dynamite and match make for an explosive couple!!
Our late Peggy, the spouse's Aunt, was a magpie like me. But she had nine rooms to indulge in her hobby! Years ago I found in her box of discards the 'Coronet', a monthly magazine, very like the Readers' Digest. It only ran from 1936-1971. In this November 1947 copy I read an interesting article about Sweden's development and recovery after the Second World War.
What was more intriguing was this page - a pictorial catalogue of Swedish match exports.
Here are the closeups. The first shows a typical view of the African in his habitat. The other three are of course typical depictions of the Arab and the Muslims. But why the Mufti of Mecca? Why exclude the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury? (And believe me, I have checked through a good number of catalogues!) I suppose they are not fiery or exotic enough in the eyes of the cool, icy Swedes.
There's a telling picture from the past - just a seemingly innocent prototype stereotyping of non-WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) from behind the eyeballs of the Swedes.
But this is classic. It's the 'Chap Tuan'. 'Tuan' is the deferential 'Sir' (in Malay/Indonesian) that you apply to the White Man only.