Yesterday when I went to The Courtauld gallery amidst the Cezanne’s Renoir’s and Rubens I found this temporary display of this rather beautiful jug known as a puzzle jug. The puzzle is of course how does one get a drink when the jug is decorated with cut-out decorations. These types of jugs were first produced in the medieval period and right up until the nineteenth century. This particular example was produced in Saintonge a region in western France known for its pottery production. The body and handles were made separately and then joined together followed by the decoration (cut when leather hard) and finally the glazing and firing. The solution to the puzzle was as follows. Embedded inside the spout was a tube which ran around the rim and down inside the handle to reach the bottom of the jug with an additional opening. Some jugs had the extra trick of additional holes along the tube which needed to be closed off before drinking. To obtain a drink one had to suck through the spout.
Later examples were often inscribed