Mether Cup

Viking, Saxon, and Early Christian Irish cultures

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Mether Cup

Postby finnobreanan on Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:29 am

I have totally dispared of finding a reproduction wooden Mether. I picked up a ceramic copy (actually looks like real one) made for the tourist trade, probably back in the 1970s and can't find a craftsman who will tackle the job. The National Museum and Hunt Museum have really good original examples, but the problem is they are carved from a solid block of wood!

Here's some good research (excuse the computor typos from the transcription, not mine):

Treen or Small Woodware throughout the Ages
By Edward H. Pint, 1949


IRISH DRINKING VESSELS, Jumhigs and methers, two distinctive types of crude wooden drinking vessels, originated in Ireland. Methers were used, it is believed, from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, whilst Iamh6gs continued up to this century. Four Idmhogs, in some districts called piggins, are in PLATE 30. These are probably
seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century specimens, made from willow, which shared for elm, beech and ash. They are capacious: the largest, 8| in. by 6| in. diameter, holds three pints; the two medium ones, y| in. high by 5 in. holds if pints. The smallest bears the Gaelic inscription "Ceid mfle fitilte" (ten thousand welcomes)* is 5! in. high by 4 in. diameter and holds over f pint.

It was incorrectly described by Evan-Thomas in Domestic Utmsib of Wood as a "mether" cup. were hollowed from solid blocks on a pole lathe and doubtless partially externally by the same means. They must have been finished with hand tools, as the handles are cut from the same block as the vessel. Limhogs were sometimes imported from Ireland into West of England taverns.

The second type of cup, the mether, differs considerably from the Idmhog in as much as it is rectangular in section at rim and usually rounded at base, although there also it sometimes approaches the rectangular. Moreover, in methers the base is usually inserted as a separate unit and sometimes there are two handles, sometimes four and often none. Cambridge possesses a mether and the National Museum, Dublin, has several, of which a willow specimen is shown in PLATE 31. It is 8 J- in. high and 4! in. wide at the top. The four handles, carved from the solid, project about f in. below the bottom, to serve as feet. This mether is unusual in having an incised pokerwork decoration on it of the emasculated interlacing variety common in the mediaeval centuries when the fall flower of Irish interlacing had decayed. Drinking must have taken place from the spouts formed by the angles of the concave sides of these awkward vessels, of which
little authenticated archaeological information is available. Those which have survived are valuable rarities.

The name mether is often said to be derived from the herb drink mead, inedd or
meodu 9 which consisted of rosemary, hissop, thyme, etc., boiled with honey, but no
evidence has been produced to support this.
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Re: Mether Cup

Postby brendan on Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:36 pm

Idea :idea:
I am not sure if you have downloaded/viewed the new BBC series 'Mastercrafts'.
Anyway, first episode was about Greenwood workers. My guess is that if you contacted the makers of the series they almost certainly could put you in touch with someone capable of making one. Prob not cheap, but if it is that hard to find...

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Re: Mether Cup

Postby finnobreanan on Sun May 29, 2011 4:19 am

Bren,

Thanks for the link, but they were not interested at all! I just can't believe that something this important in Irish culture is not being reprodused. :evil:

In the 18th an 19th century, the form was being manufactured in silver...as christening cups! I can find new made versions of these all over (and a few originals at very high prices)!

I just got a few contacts for woodcarvers here in the States, so I'll keep my fingers crossed!
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Re: Mether Cup

Postby barry on Sun May 29, 2011 11:15 pm

Hi Finn
Can you please send me a link to a photo or a drawing of what you are looking for mate i might be able to help.
All the best.

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Re: Mether Cup

Postby oldrat on Mon May 30, 2011 7:36 am

hi
one of the caps
18,5cm h and 12,5cm w
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Re: Mether Cup

Postby Billy on Mon May 30, 2011 2:06 pm

Boyd Rankin of Irish Arms made one for the National Museum.

Try www.irisharms.ie
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Re: Mether Cup

Postby finnobreanan on Tue May 31, 2011 2:37 pm

The Hunt Museum has five of them on their website. Key word search "Mether".
http://test.huntmuseum.com/search.html
oldrat, yes, that is just the thing. I will also check with Boyd. I was also sent the names of a couple of woodcarvers here in the US that might be able to do it.
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Re: Mether Cup

Postby oleg on Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:44 am

The cup by Boyd looks very good. But I didn't see dating info - should be around 15-16th c, right?
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Re: Mether Cup

Postby Jason H on Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:21 pm

http://www.robin-wood.co.uk/museums.htm
Use the little toggle to scroll down on his photos to the right on the page. Bottom one on the left.
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Re: Mether Cup

Postby brendan on Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:38 am

Some fairly amazing bowls there...glad my credit card isn't nearby ; more importantly hue has made some of the item in question already!
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