The preciousness of this elegant weapon with its relatively restrained golden decoration lies in the material of its scabbard and hilt: it was believed that the sword was made of the horn of the legendary unicorn. In fact, the scabbard and hilt are made of the tusk of a narwhal. From ca. 1200 such narwhal teeth, which often reached considerable lengths, were sold as "alicorns" for colossal sums. The horn of the legendary creature was considered to have great powers, and because of the Christian-allegorical interpretation of the unicorn myth, "alicorns" became a preferred material for both secular (e.g., sceptres - cf. Inv.No. SK_WS_XIa_2) and ecclesiastical emblems (e.g., bishop's crosiers). The symbolic power of the incomparably precious "alicorn" thus explains the restrained mounting with pearls, a ruby and simple gold bands. On the latter are found the emblems of Duke Philip the Good (fire-steel and sparking flint), executed on a matt background. From the estate of his heir, Charles the Bold, the sword came into the possession of his son-in-law, the later Emperor Maximilian I.
Insigne; Waffe; Schwert
Burgundisch - Niederländisch
2. Viertel 15. Jahrhundert
Schwert: Stahl, Ainkhürn (Narwalzahn), Gold, Email; Ergänzungen: Silber, vergoldet, Rubin, Perlen
L. 106 cm
Klinge: L. 86,7 cm
Scheide: L. 92,3 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Weltliche Schatzkammer
Schatzkammer, WS XIV 3
This object is still without a Art Patron. Accept the patronage and make sure that this cultural treasure is preserved for future generations.
Your donation is a direct and sustainable contribution to the scientific documentation, research, restoration, and presentation of the artworks of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien.