After visiting the Hungarian Ethnographic Museum in Budapest earlier in the year I have been looking more closely at the pieces I have at home. These were all bought in Bristol at different times – three from an antique dealer who had shipped various folk pieces including furniture from Hungary/Romania in the 90s. The others have come from local junk shops and charity shops. The jug forms are called bokály in Hungarian and are described as wine jugs – for drinking rather than serving. These wares are usually described as Hungarian but in practice come from across the Hungarian speaking regions well into Romania. I have not got vey far with actual identifications but I am working on it. Any thoughts welcome.
These are all lead-glazed earthenware they often get mistaken for maiolica but in practice they are slipware decorated with a mix of oxides and painted on coloured glaze over a white slip. None of them are internally glazed or slipped. Whether they are derived from the maiolica wares or whether there is a parallel tradition of slipware isn’t clear to me but since Hungarian ceramic history suggests a movement of people and technologies directly from Italy the latter would seem more likely initially with a blurring of lines as time went on. There is also a strong Turkish/Ottoman influence on regional material culture and this is reflected in the bokály forms and some of the floral designs.
These two are distinctly medieval looking. They are probably 19th or early 20th century. Technically and visually they most closely resemble Italian medieval proto-maiolica right down to the pale buff clays and the greens outlined in black/purple and the style of drawing. On the left you can see the buff body showing below the white slip. The one on the right is very chipped around the foot and is in fact slip covered right over the base. (left ht 17cm/6.5″; right 16cm/6.25″)
Often the fit between the slip and the body is poor. On this one the slip can be see flaking off around the belly (ht 20cm/7.75″). The decoration is more Islamic than Italian as is also the case below where the form seems to go in that direction too.
This battered bokály is older than the others – I think (ht 20.5cm/8″). Again the slip is flaking around the fractures and on the lower body. The painting is done with a thick cobalt-blue mix which stands proud from the surface. The yellow band is also raise and matt.
This dish is fairly recent and has Korond written on the back (width 27cm/10.5″). Korond is in the Romanian part of Transylvania. Here the form and decoration are distinctly from the maiolica tradition not least in the Chinese derived border. The style reminds me as much of Portuguese and Spanish tin-glaze as anywhere.