Comics on Raeren jugs
In the second half of the 16th century, the Raeren potters developed a revolutionary technical form variant. Out of the former spherical jug forms they developed a new, architectonically highly structured form. This form displayed from the bottom up a foot, a cylindrical middle part, a shoulder and a neck.
The cylindrical middle part allowed the potters to put friezes on the jugs instead of the previously used coat of arms and medallions. These friezes told whole stories in the style of today's comics with the help of pictures and text. Religious and profane motives served as entertainment for their users and made Raeren stoneware even more popular.
When the peasants dance
One of the most popular motives on Raeren jugs of the 16th century is the peasants' dance. This motive also appears very often in paintings of that time and originates from the changing order of society. At the same time, it casts interesting light on celebrations and festivities of the time. The reference of the Raeren peasant dance, of which there exist more than 30 variations, originates from a series of copperplate engravings of the Nürnberg master Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550).
The most frequent text on the peasant dance jugs reads:
GERET DU MUS DAPER BLASEN
SO DANSSEN DIE BUREN ALS WEREN SI RASEN
FRI UF SPRICHT BASTOR
ICH VERDANS DI KAP MIT EN KOR:
Gerhard, you have to blow heartily,
so that the peasants dance furiously.
Right on, says the pastor,
I dance away the hat, the amict (shoulder cloth) and the choir coat.
Susanna, Judith and Baby Jesus
Many motives on the Raeren friezes are of religious nature. One of the most popular was without doubt the story of the chaste virgin Susanna from the Old Testament. There are further religious motives which also originate from the Old Testament, for example the story of Judith. Motives from the New Testament can also be found like for instance that decapitation of John or the Nativity story. These were common religious motives known by the people and served as a reminder of devoutness to people even while eating and drinking.
The Raeren potters depicted not only religious but also profane motives on their jugs like for example scenes from Greek and Roman mythology. Landsknechts, soldiers of the Thirty Years' War, coats of arms and people of world history were popular as well. Further, there were also purely decorative geometric or floral patterns. Sometimes these jugs also served as political propaganda, for example the friezes showing depictions of electors or other European rulers.
Man has always portrayed himself in art. This is also true for the potters who already in the 15th century produced so-called face jugs in Raeren. The jug served as head into which facial mimicry was carved or moulded. In the 16th century, the Frechen potters used this idea and produced numerous so-called bearded men which became very popular, especially in England. The Raeren potters also produced bearded-men jugs in large numbers. From the 17th century onwards, the bearded-men masks changed into animal or devil’s faces, so-called grotesques.