Featured Stein: July   2011
~  A Hunter's Funeral Stein ~
By Ken Stroud
The Hunterís Funeral is a theme found in many European cultures and countries. It is typically seen as animals of the forest, who, once hunted, are now escorting the hunterís coffin in a procession in a fantastic reversal of roles. It is both satirical and solemn, in addition to being paradoxical. It may also reflect the reverence the hunter once had for his quarry is now being returned by the forest animals out of respect. Sociologically, it suggests inversion of the structure of power found in an oppressive hierarchy.

The scene on this stein depicts a fox leading the procession reading from a Bible followed by a hare with a cross, various birds overhead, a boar carrying a shovel, four deer supporting the coffin, followed by  the hunterís horse (still saddled) and his hounds.  Also, there is an owl and a squirrel sitting on the coffin and a hunterís horn on top as well. The layout of the images on the stein is very similar to that in a painting (artist unknown) of a hunter's funeral shown just below. The porcelain inlay lid is of a hunter surveying the field.
The stein is of Westerwald design and appears to have been made from applying the clay to a 3 panel iron mold with the clay being driven in with a tapered wedge since the lower portion of the panels is not distinct due to lack of clay thickness in this area rather than a worn mold. It has a hand applied handle and has the circular marks on the base indicating it was removed from the wheel by placing a wire under it. (Courtesy John McGregors article on Westerwald Steinzeug, 1996).

Following are a few different samples of this motif:
(above) Wie die Tiere den Jšger begraben (How the animals bury the hunter ) by Moritz Von Schwind ca. 1850, a woodcut illustrating a popular classic Austrian childrenís fairy tale. The 3rd movement of Gustav Mahlerís Symphony No. 1  in D-major was inspired by this woodcut.
(below) Two variations from beehive panels from Slovenia.

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