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Das "Ainkhürn"- Schwert

2. Viertel 15. Jahrhundert, handled by: Gerard Loyet , (Erneuerung der Schwertscheide, um 1467)



Das "Ainkhürn"- Schwert

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.

Currently not displayed.

Object data

Object Name

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

Image rights

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Weltliche Schatzkammer

Inv. No.

Schatzkammer, WS XIV 3

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