Vösendorf: the Cup That Made Me Fall in Love

Without a doubt, the most charming cups among the Hallstatt feeding cups for children are the Vösendorf cups held at the Natural History Museum in Vienna.

Small feeding vessels found in a burial site in Vösendorf, Austria, dated to c 1300 to 800 BCE.

Several years ago, I attempted a vessel based on these, and it was just terrible. Also, it was very unstable, and at some point after it was bisqued, it fell over, and its head broke off.

This year, I finally felt ready to go back to this shape and do it better.

My earthenware copy of a Vösendorf burial cup. Shown here in its
greenware state, this was later bisque fired and will not be glazed.

I felt pretty good about this one. The feet seemed a little clunky, but I think I had the general idea. It really looked like the example on the far right had a little bunny tail, and I leaned into that. No spout, but I figured for something so whimsical, it was likely ceremonial.

Of course, well after it was bisqued, I discovered this one should have had a spout. (You may be thinking, “I don’t think I’d want to drink out of that end, even figuratively.” But it’s probably easier to get a grip on the horns, the udder/teats on a live animal are back in that general direction, you don’t want to put your eye out, and would you really want to drink out of front end, for that matter? Back to the article this illustration comes from: it also had a photo showing a [20th Century] mom feeding a baby right from a goat’s udder.)

Photographs and line drawings, showing interior space, for the second Vösendorf cup from the left, judging by that lean in the left leg. Wonderful illustration by Rebay-Salisbury.

So, yeah, I’ll definitely be remaking this one.

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