Ale Bowls are fine examples of Scandinavian Traditional Folk Art. For some time, they have remained very special as cultural artifacts and prized for display in museums such as at Vesterheim in Decorah, Iowa. Ale bowls originated from Norway and Sweden, and in many other European countries adjacent to the Baltic sea. The function of ale bowls was to serve homemade beer/ale for special occasions. They were used to share a beverage with families and other social groups. Occasions for sharing from an ale bowl included marriages, baptisms, funerals, and for other milestones worthy of celebration. These articles took form and shape through the traditions held in certain communities. They were handmade, made principally of wood, and they often included animal heads at one or both ends.
Many times the birds and dragons depicted on ale bowls had carved tails at the opposite end from the head. In a sense they appear as stylized decoy like animals, except a cavity was carved out for consuming beverages. Commonly, the shape involved a bird, dragon, or a horse, but sometimes rams or other animals were featured. Other ale bowls were turned on a lathe and whether turned or carved, the addition of paint told another story as well. Which colors were used, which designs followed, and what ornamentation applied all spoke to the cultural traditions and status of those creating their ale bowl. I hope you'll enjoy this exploration of Norwegian folk culture and art.
Dragon Ale Bowl 2017
Nordic dragons are a favorite animal depiction on ale bowls. This was my first ale bowl and I was hooked on carving ale bowls after doing it. Two colors like reddish brown and black are a great color scheme for ale bowls.
Horse Ale Bowl 2018
Jim was very excited to carve this double headed horse ale bowl. The carved heads are folk renditions of Norwegian fjord horses which convey strength. Historically, ale bowls with two horse heads has been a very common design in Voss, Norway. This ale bowl has a black background to set apart the acanthus carving which included reddish brown, yellow, and green accents.
Little Rooster Ale Bowl 2019
This rooster ale bowl is a gem and a joy to hold in your hands. It has a green background and has acanthus and other low relief carving to include gouge chop details on the bottom of the tail.