Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Putz House of Bremen

I found this unusual "putz" house at a sale this past summer. I initially didn't pay too much attention to the scene on the front, but when I got it home and took a closer look, clearly something very peculiar was taking place.



It was marked "Made in Germany" on the bottom, so it dated from before WWII.


What I initially believed to be a rooster on a pig on a dog on a donkey turned out to be 75% correct. What I thought was a pig was actually a cat.

Googling the odd assortment of animals revealed it was a Brothers Grimm fairy tale called "The Town Musicians of Bremen".
From Wikipedia: 
In the story a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster (or hen), all past their prime years in life and usefulness on their respective farms, were soon to be discarded or mistreated by their masters. One by one they leave their homes and set out together. They decide to go to Bremen, known for its freedom, to live without owners and become musicians there. ("Something better than death we can find anywhere.")
On the way to Bremen, they see a lighted cottage; they look inside and see four robbers enjoying their ill-gotten gains. Standing on each other's backs, they decide to scare the robbers away by making a din; the men run for their lives, not knowing what the strange sound is. The animals take possession of the house, eat a good meal, and settle in for the evening.
Later that night, the robbers return and send one of their members in to investigate. He sees the Cat's eyes shining in the darkness and the robber thinks he is seeing the coals of the fire. He reaches over to light his candle. Things happen in quick succession; the Cat scratches his face with her claws, the Dog bites him on the leg, the Donkey kicks him with his hooves, and the Rooster crows and chases him out the door, screaming. He tells his companions that he was beset by a horrible witch who scratched him with her long fingernails (the Cat), an ogre with a knife (the Dog), a giant who had hit him with his club (the Donkey), and worst of all, the judge who screamed from the rooftop (the Rooster). The robbers abandon the cottage to the strange creatures who have taken it, where the animals live happily for the rest of their days.
Bremen is a city in northwestern Germany and though in the story the animals never make it there, the city erected a bronze statue in their honor.

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