In Norsk Folkemuseum´s collections there is a large ale bowl decorated in the distinctive style of Norwegian decorative folk painting known as rosemaling with the inscription “Anno 1713”.Norsk Folkemuseum’s founder, Hans Aal, gave the ale bowl to the museum and registered it as the museum’s first artifact. This happened already before the day of the official founding of the museum, December 19, 1894. A true expression of optimism and faith in the future!
The museum’s very first artifact is a fine representative of the now comprehensive collections. The ale bowl is from Vinje in Telemark, where it was decoratively painted for a farmer by the artist Thomas O. Blix, woodcarver and decorative painter. In 1712 – 14, Blix painted décor in churches in West Telemark. While doing this work, he also decorated many large ale bowls for wealthy farmers and senior civil servants. His distinctive motifs would later serve as models for other rural decorative painters.
From 1713 and for generations to follow, the majestic ale bowl has been placed in the center of the table at festive occasions and celebrations, filled with tasty ale. Judging from the bowl’s size, smaller bowls have probably been used for pouring and drinking. Only the best of food and drink was offered at the traditional holidays and celebrations, and ale had great ceremonial significance, which also was expressed through the ale bowl’s elaborate decor.
Smaller ale bowl used for pouring or as drinking cup.