Posted on 07 April 2012 by citymag
The origins of the Péckvillercher are clouded in mystery. Even those who make the ceramic bird-shaped whistles seem uncertain of how the tradition started. Ceramic or clay whistles can actually be dated as far back as 4500-4000 BC, but it was only much later that making whistles in the shapes of animals became popular. A whistle in the form of a bird found in Paris can be dated to the 16th century and examples of ceramic whistles dating from between the 16th and 18th centuries have been found at various locations in Luxembourg.
The earliest known whistle that can be recognized as a Péckvillchen dates from between 1850 and 1914 – production was halted during the First World War – and it was not until the Comité Alstad revitalised the tradition of the Emaischen Easter Monday market in 1938 that the modern Péckvillchen was born.
Péckvillercher come in all sorts of models, but it is local artist Alex Gilbert who has made the whistle into an art form. “Most Péckvillercher presented at the Emaischen were very simple,” he says. “I thought it would be good to reclaim the tradition by lending it an artistic touch.” Gilbert has been making a different model each year since 1984, and this year has chosen the European Bee-eater as his bird. He says it takes between 8 and 12 hours to create the birds, which are fired in a kiln at 1245oC. Gilbert’s Péckvillercher are available in three sizes and can be ordered in advance and collected at the Emaischen or from his studio. Contact via email: [email protected], or tel: 380 684 (answer machine).