Friday, January 18, 2013

The Wassailing Bowl

This bowl was made at the Ewenny Pottery in Glamorgan. It is made of red clay with a yellow glaze over a white slip. Wassailing bowls were always decorated in the same way and this one has nearly all the expected traditional features. The man on the lid sits with out-stretched arms and wears a tricorn hat. He originally sat on a barrel with a glass in his hand. Other lid decoration includes four handles, a fox, dogs, birds and sheaves of corn. On the very top stands a cockerel. The body had eighteen handles and is decorated with 'sgraffito' (scratched) decoration. Designs include a compass and some plants, possibly hop flowers. The inscription reads: "Margt Thomas / Decr 9th 1841 / Bridgend". Our Christmas tradition of carol singing door-to-door grew out of wassailing. The bowl contained mulled wine which the householder drank for good luck before adding more wine to the bowl. In South Wales, a wassailing bowl often accompanied the traditional 'Mari Lwyd'. The 'Mari Lwyd' (Grey Lady) is a horse's skull covered with a white sheet and decorated with colourful ribbons. It was carried door-to-door by a man who operated the jaw and made it snap. It was accompanied by a party of followers who stood outside the door reciting poetry and songs until they were let into the house. Once inside, the 'Mari Lwyd' ran about wildly after any girls, snapping at them until they gave it food and drink.
This Item is located at Swansea Museum in the Cabinet of Curiosities, Wales.

3 comments:

Deborah Darling said...

a fabulous item ! and its a super good museum too :) x

Michael Kline said...

Beautiful pot and a CRAZY ritual! esp. the horses head chasing around until given food and drink!

Jenny Mendes said...

:) indeed!!