Ceramic, Holiday, Luxembourg, Markets, Other Artists, Peckvillchen, Peckvillercher, Tradition, Whistles

Put a Bird on it!

I fear I’ve been falling down on my blogging duties, alas. Anyways. Last weekend was Easter, or since I live in Luxembourg, “buy bird whistles and annoy my cat” day. Otherwise known as Émaishen, it takes place every year on Easter Monday, and it’s name is in reference to the story of the travelers that Jesus met on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection, though it’s so much more about pottery than anything else. The current incarnation of the festival is relatively new, with the market in Luxembourg City’s Fëschmaart (marché aux poissons) dating back to 1938 and the one in nearby Nospelt dating to 1957.
My favorite whistles! Made by Hildegard Schemehl, who can be found on the interwebs here.

Traditionally, Easter Monday corresponded with the celebration of the Guild of Potters that used to take place outside of église Saint Michel, and there is a 1827 document that references a market in front of the church, and recommends that it be moved to marché aux poissions, but there seems to be no reference to the bird whistles being particular to that market at that time (more info). The modern market is huge, spilling out of Fëschmaart into Kneudler and the streets surrounding them and Place d’Armes, and it lasts all day, so since I live downtown, I hear the chirping whistles from dawn to dusk, which I think is quite lovely, even if it does prevent the full enjoyment of a holiday Monday afternoon nap.

The whistles are called péckvillchen, and I’m told that the more typical one is a water whistle, that is has a vessel that is filled with water and sounds like a chirping songbird, though it seems that most of the potters today seem to make ocarina-like coucous, that are played dry and have a couple of tones.

Here’s a recording of one of the water whistles.

I met a potter once on Vancouver Island, I forget his name (edit: I think it was Victor Dufffhues of JoVic Pottery in Chemainus, and wether it was him or not, I have a mug of his that I love to pieces), but when I told him I work in glass, he told me that that he though that all potters are frustrated glass artists… I think the inverse applies to glass artists, at least to me, and going to stuff like this makes me feel it all the more. So I should probably learn to use ceramics. Then I will say I’m an artist who works with fire, which would be awesome.

The market is organized by the comité Alstad in Luxembourg and information on the festival in Nospelt, which goes all weekend, can be found at the Nouspelter Emaischenwebsite.

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