Kintsugi Art: Medieval Bellarmine Siegburg Beer Stein circa 1450
Using pure gold and Urushi black lacquer the handle and top segment of this medieval Siegburg drinking vessel has been re-constructed using traditional Japanese Kintsugi techniques. The ear of Barley design pays homage to the brewers of beer at that time and the farmers that grew the Barley for that purpose.
A thumbprint of the maker can also been seen on the base of this stunning piece.
The word “Kintsugi” translates to “golden joinery”. It is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with Japanese urushi lacquer dusted with powdered gold or silver.
This repair method celebrates each artifact’s unique history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing it with new life.
In traditional Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.
This beer stein was made in Siegburg, an abbey town on the River Sieg about 12km. east of Bonn where the river joins the Rhine.
Pottery was made in Siegburg from at least 1150, with exports including stoneware from the mid-13th century and a potters' guild from about 1400.
Except for the 1580s when wars caused some potters to move away, the Siegburg industry attained its techical and aesthetic peak between 1550 and 1632 when the town was destroyed by Swedes in the Thirty Years' War.
The local clay, dug from shallow pits, was fine and pure and required little added sand to temper it ready for firing to a high temperature to make stoneware. Fuel was freely available from local forests. The jug was thrown on a fast wheel then the handle was separately applied to the jug when leather-hard i.e. partially dried.
Stoneware was ideal for drinking vessels as it is non-porous even when left unglazed and a stronger material than earthenware or glass.