Sunday, June 19, 2016

Brewers’ Stars and the Star of David

 Brewers’ Stars and the Star of David in:
Jacob Linckh, Landauer Band I (1659), Seite 118v

It is a well-known fact that the Brewer's Star (on brewery signs, inn signs, beer kegs, beer guild logos, beer cups etc.) looks exactly like the Star of David, but it is important to notice that even though every Star of David is a six-pointed star - not every six-pointed star is a Star of David. For example, there are natural hexagrams like stars, snowflakes and flowers; and there are artificial hexagrams like police badges, Chinese checkers etc.
Matthias Trum claims in his thesis [1] that the oldest depiction of a brewer is in a 1425 painting from Nuremberg, Germany. Later on Matthias Trum tries to answer (without arriving to any clear conclusion) the question: “How could one symbol in the course of history get two so different meanings? Might there even be a connection between both forms, e.g. do they have the same origin, or is the similarity merely coincidental”?
There are two facts about the connection between the hexagram and the alcohol industry, which might help answer Matthias Trum’s question: the first is that James Bennett Pritchard found a few hexagrams engraved on some wine jar handles from the 8th century B.C.E. at Gibeon, Israel [2]. The second is that hexagrams were found as Greek emblems for the marking of wines in Thasos and Carthago.

Another point that seems relevant here is that in alchemy the hexagram is composed from a triangle that points up representing fire while the triangle that points down represents water. Fire and water (needless to say) are opposites. In the hexagram they interpenetrate, and together they represent the unity of the opposites or (in alchemy)- the fiery water, the alcohol, the brandy etc.

Folklore has it that like the SIX points of the hexagram the brewers’ star represented the SIX aspects of brewing: water, hops, grain, malt, yeast, and brewer.

[1] For Technical University in Munich titled: Historical depictions, guild signs and symbols of the brewing and malting handcraft)
[2] The Water System of Gibeon, 1961, Page 47, 48 ISBN 0-934718-14-8
[3] Kadmoniot, 1973, Israel pp. 2-17