Peasant-style ceramics

The region of Thun-Heimberg-Langnau is well known throughout Europe for hand-made ceramics featuring rich slip decoration. The producers, mostly family businesses, use traditional techniques to create both small batches and unique pieces. For a long time, pottery was practiced on small farms to produce goods for own use, and this led to the term "Bauernkeramik", meaning farmer or peasant-style ceramics. In the early eighteenth century five pottery centres established themselves in the canton of Bern, each with its own trademark features: in Langnau, Heimberg and Albligen, ceramic goods were slip decorated while in Simmental and Bäriswil they were made from white-glazed pottery. Demand for peasant-style ceramics soared with tourism in the nineteenth century. In the trade's heyday around the turn of the twentieth century, many manufacturers presented decorative ceramics, exhibition pieces and Thun Majolica at fairs in Paris and London. However, in spite of training programmes run to recruit new talent, today the craft is at risk of become a dying art. A new consumer society and cheap imports by wholesalers have made economic conditions tough for the potters. The situation has been exacerbated by the Confederation's decision to amalgamate the professions "potter" and "ceramics painter" into "ceramist".


Category


Canton


Detailed description

Publications

Beate Engelbrecht/Theo Gantner/Meinhard Schuster: Berner Töpferei. Mensch und Handwerk. Basel, 1990

Adriano Boschetti-Maradi: Gefässkeramik und Hafnerei in der Frühen Neuzeit im Kanton Bern (Schriften des Bernischen Historischen Museums 8). Bern, 2006

Andreas Heege/Andreas Kistler/Walter Thut: Keramik aus Bäriswil. Zur Geschichte einer bedeutenden Landhafnerei im Kanton Bern (Schriften des Bernischen Historischen Museums 10). Bern, 2011

Andreas Heege/Andreas Kistler: Poteries décorées de Suisse alémanique, 17e–19e siècles, Collections du Musée Ariana, Genève – Keramik der Deutschschweiz, 17.–19. Jahrhundert. Die Sammlung des Musée Ariana, Genf. Mailand, 2017

Andreas Heege/Andreas Kistler: Keramik aus Langnau. Zur Geschichte der bedeutendsten Landhafnerei im Kanton Bern (Schriften des Bernischen Historischen Museums 13): Bern, 2017

Hermann Buchs: Vom Heimberger Geschirr zur Thuner Majolika. Thun, 1988

Ethnologisches Seminar der Universität Basel (Ed.): Berner Töpferei. Mensch und Handwerk. St. Gallen, 1983

Katrin Roth-Rubi: Chacheli us em Bode. Der Kellerfund im Haus 315 in Nidfluh, Därstetten. Ein Händlerdepot. Wimmis, 2000

Robert L. Wyss: Berner Bauernkeramik (Berner Heimatbücher). Bern, 1966

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