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Who Made You Mystery Bearded Man ?

Mystery Earthenware Jug - Photo Ray Garrod

There are some pieces of pottery which talk to you, and this is one of them 🙂 …I have had this piece for years now and have not been able to identify its origin. Originally purchased at an auction simply because it really stood out to me.

From the distance, when I first saw this piece I thought it was a piece of 1970s Australian Studio Pottery…in the style of Jo Caddy, but the more I study it, the more I am inclined to think it is from Europe…and possibly very old.

I have done a bit of research on “bearded man jugs” (from the 17th century, and Toby jugs but not come up with anything like it.

It’s obviously hand made, wheel thrown with an applied and engraved decoration and then fired in a wood kiln firing – there are areas of Ash and possibly even small areas of salt glaze.

There is just something about the condition of the clay and the colour of the oxides used that says very old. Also I cant think of a reason an Australian potter would put a Dutch windmill as a motif on a jug – unless they were emulating the style of jug from the 17th 18th Century.

It is at the same time quite crudely made, but also displays a very high level of skill and finesse in the decoration, formation of the handle and other small details. The walls are an even thickness. It is not too heavy, not too light. ….and just look at the beautiful little bird in flight, the leaves, and all the small details.

Quite an enigma, my goatee’d man.

I posted this entry on the first incarnation of this website years ago, and the best ideas then were as follows:

  • From a Dutch reader –  “not a Dutch Windmill…but a Spanish Windmill….and looking very much like Don Quixote” 
  • From another reader –  a “Hungarian Miska Mug, depicting a Hussar” – it does bear resemblance to these jugs, although all the ones I can find are glazed faience earthenware 
  • And another – possibly Japanese? – There is a windmill style similar to this in Japan. 

I would love to hear from readers in the comments section as to what your thoughts are on this piece, and hopefully one day the origin will be revealed. 

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