Wine pot

DATE: ca.1600 (made)
PLACE: Augsburg (made)

During the 17th century, the south German city of Augsburg specialised in the production of elaborate works of art such as the trinkspiele; mechanical cups that were used as drinking amusements. This trinskpiele in the shape of a female monkey holding her young, was made in Augsburg in around 1600. The monkey probably had a mechanical base originally, although this has since been removed. Like other trinkspiele, it has three openings; one for pouring wine into the main compartment and the other two for drinking out of. The trinkspiele would have been wound up, allowed to move around the table, and the couple in front of whom it stopped would be required to drink from it. The man would have drunk from the main compartment (the monkey on the front of the pot) and the lady would have drunk from the smaller compartment (the monkey on the back). Drinking from these two spouts simultaneously must have resulted in much hilarity an account of both the risk of spilling the wine and the closeness into which this forced the party guests. Despite being created in Augsburg, the piece is struck with the maker’s mark of Lorenz Tittecke, a Nuremburg silversmith active between 1597-1626, who is likely to have made repairs or alterations to the piece. Similar monkey teapots were produced by the German porcelain manufacturer, Meissen, over one hundred years later in the 1730s, of which there is an example in the Chitra Collection (CCN 1065).