Sunday, January 10, 2010

There is more to the humble Mug...

A mug is a sturdily built type of cup often used for drinking hot beverages, such as coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Mugs, by definition, have handles and often hold a larger amount of fluid than other types of cup. Usually a mug holds approximately 12 fluid ounces (350 ml) of liquid; double a tea cup. In formal settings a mug is usually not used for serving hot beverages, with a teacup or coffee cup being preferred.

Whereas ancient mugs were usually carved in wood or bone or shaped of clay, most modern ones are made of ceramic materials such as earthenware, bone china, porcelain or stoneware. Some are made from strengthened glass, such as Pyrex. Other materials, including plastic, steel and enameled metal are preferred where break resistance is at a premium. Techniques such as silk screen printing or decals are used to apply decorations; these are fired onto the mug to ensure permanence.

The oldest drinking vessels recovered by archaeologists were made of bones, they hardly had a handle and thus are not mugs.
The first mugs are related to the Neolithic Stone Age and pottery vessels which were found in China and Japan and date to about 10000 BCE.
The first pottery was shaped by hands and was later facilitated by invention of the potter's wheel (date unknown, between 6,500 and 3000 BCE).
It was relatively easy to add a handle to a cup in the process thus producing a mug. For example, a rather advanced, decorated clay mug from 4000–5000 BCE was found in Greece.

With the development of metalworking techniques, metal mugs were produced from bronze, silver, gold and even lead, starting from roughly 2000 BCE and were hard to use with hot drinks. Wooden mugs were produced probably from the oldest time, but most of them could not be preserved to the present time.
The invention of porcelain around 600 CE in China brought a new era of thin-walled mugs suitable both for cold and hot liquids, which we enjoy today.

A continuousdeformation between a coffee mug and a donut illustrating that they are homeomorphic (topologically equivalent)
The mug serves as one of the most popular examples of homeomorphism in topology. Two objects are homeomorphic if one can be deformed into the other without cutting or gluing. Thus in topology, a mug is equivalent (homeomorphic) to a doughnut (torus) as it can be reshaped into a doughnut by a continuous deformation, without cutting, breaking, punching holes or gluing. Another topological example is a mug with two handles, which is equivalent to a double torus – an object resembling number 8. A mug without a handle, that is a bowl or a beaker, is topologically equivalent to a saucer, which is more evident as a raw clay bowl can be flattened on a potter's wheel.

Stylish, Narrow and tall espresso mugs are also available today.

Puzzle mugs
A puzzle mug called fuddling cups consists of three mugs connected through their walls and handles.
The inner holes in the mugs walls are designed in such a way that the mugs must be emptied in a unique sequence, or they will drain.
Another puzzle mug contains a small siphon hidden in a rod placed in the mug center. The cup holds liquid if filled below the height of the rod, but once filled above that level, it drains all liquid through the siphon to a hole in the its bottom.
The whistle mug or hubblebubble is not a puzzle but rather an amusement mug.
It has a hollow handle which can be blown through the mug like a whistle. With an empty mug, only one note was emitted whereas a filled mug produced melodious trills and warblings.

Mug derives from an English slang term for face, dating from the 18th century.

A mug shot, or booking photograph, is a photographic portrait taken after one is arrested. The purpose of the mug shot is to allow law enforcement to have a photographic record of the arrested individual to allow for identification by victims and investigators. Most mug shots are two-part, with one side-view photo, and one front-view.

mugging - assault upon a person with intent to rob, a threatened or attempted physical attack by someone who appears to be able to cause bodily harm.

A person who is easily deceived or victimized:

Some exerpts courtesy Wikipedia.


  1. Very interesting post! I think mugs outnumber cups in our house 2 to 1, since we drink so much tea and coffee.

  2. Wonderful post on mugs, mug, mugging.... And I have learned (or am in the process of learning) a new word: homeomorphic . Thanks!

  3. Interesting and fun post. You have no idea how much I love mugs. I've got a whole cupboard full of them, all different, all brought back from travels!

  4. Schöne Tassen hast Du liebe Titania, am besten gefällt mir die blaue mit den Blüemli in der Mitte.
    Interessante Geschichte soweit ich folgen konnte, habe es mit Google übersetzt, doch die machen manchmal komische Sätze -;)
    Liebe Grüsse

  5. I love your diffrent cups.They are really beautiful.My favourit cups are with the blue print.
    Ich habe ganz vergessen,daß ich dir auch in deutsch schreiben kann...
    Ein schönes Wochenende!