This is Jordaens’s design for the first in a series of eight tapestries depicting popular proverbs or sayings. He received the commission in September 1644, and Jordaens retained control of exactly which Netherlandish proverbs he would illustrate. The saying ‘As the Old Ones Sing, so the Young Ones Pipe’ warns parents to set a good example to their children, as whatever they do, their children will copy. Moralising sayings such as this were popular in the region in the seventeenth century, and had their roots in biblical commands. People were accustomed to the imagery used to illustrate proverbs, and would have recognised the symbolic use of items to reinforce the point. For example, the jug on the table represents temperance.