Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Burns Night special - the Quaich

I'm sure the Scots amongst you will know this immediately, but people from other parts of the world may perhaps be wondering what a quaich is...

A quaich is a twin-handled drinking-vessel. The little leaflet that came with this lovely example produced by The Quaich Company (Scotland) Ltd, of Glasgow, tells me that the name is derived from the Gaelic word "cuach", meaning "cup".

The leaflet goes on to say that centuries ago, these things were made of wooden staves, but by the 17th century were often mounted in silver or made entirely from that metal. The one in my picture is not made of silver, unfortunately, but of pewter.

The quaich has evolved into a ceremonial item, often handed round amongst friends at a gathering or offered in welcome to a visitor (filled with whisky of course!). It is also often used for drinking a formal toast. Years ago, when I was in the Army we had a tradition that at the end of a formal Dinner in the officers' mess, during which the Regimental pipers would play to entertain the guests, the Pipe Major would be offered a tot of whisky in a quaich as a Thank You gesture.

The quaich in my picture is one that Jane won in a competition sponsored by The Scotsman newspaper. It's a beautiful object, though we have yet to use it for its intended purpose. Perhaps since it's Burns Night tonight we should use it as we eat our haggis, 'neeps and tatties? (No, just kidding, we don't like haggis and being English we don't celebrate Burns Night).

P.S. Have you ever tried to photograph anything as awkward as this? Reflections all over the place! (Note image of photographer in both these pics).

Here's a link to Wikipedia for those of you who need more info on what Burns Night is all about.


  1. All I can think if Mark is that if this took hold in Australia, we'd be having even more problems with drinking than we do now! Two hands when you've had a few too many would certainly help.

    Your pewter quaich is a bit fabulous, have you had a drink out of it? It looks as though it has a very wide mouth, and I would be interested to know if it spills easily around your mouth when tipped up.

    Goodness my English is going to pot.

  2. I love posts where I learn something like this. How interesting! Thank you for sharing!

  3. It is very pretty and I love how it says "cup of friendship".
    For the photography, did you try some other background? and for the reflection, I usually do one step back and add some zoom.

  4. oh my! i inherited one of these and never knew what it was! can't wait to use it for more than a change dish. :)

  5. Vrtlarica ana - I tried your step-back-and-zoom tecnique, but the angle was then all wrong, but perhaps you're right about needing a different background. Maybe I need to acquire a piece of black velvet?

  6. Shiny things are the hardest to photograph! You usually need a lighted tent like arrangement with just your lens poking through a hole to take the pic, refelctions everywhere otherwise.


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