Bartmann Jug



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Bartmann Jug

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Bartmann Jug

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This jug is of the type known as Bartmann or "bearded man" for the bewhiskered face that adorns the neck. Bartmann jugs are also identified in the literature as "Bellarmines," a term popularly believed to be a satiric reference to the much despised Cardinal Robert Bellarmino (1542-1621). In 1606 Bellarmino, who was "a zealous opponent of Protestantism in the Low Countries and northern Germany," publicly rebuked King James I for his treatment of English Catholics.1 While the association between the bulbous grimacing jug and the Catholic prelate may have been made by the English and Dutch during the tempestuous religious climate of the early 17th century, it is unlikely that the form originated as a caricature. The first Bartmänner were produced around 1550 when Bellarmino was only eight years old!

The Bartmann jug was excavated from Pit 1, a ca. 1610 context within the palisaded walls of James Fort. Besides its bearded mask with a curved ladder mouth, it exhibits parts of what would have been three ovoid-medallions applied to its belly. Medallions on Bartmänner are often armorial reflecting the coats-of-arms of affluent patrons, European cities and royal houses, ecclesiastical offices, or even the potter's own Hausmarke or symbol.

Text excerpted from Jamestown Rediscovery V by William M. Kelso, Nicholas M. Luccketti, and Beverly A. Straube.

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