The pictorial, expressive character of this goblet was determined by the underlying idea of warding of demonic powers in nature by objectifying them. The formidably tusk of the warthog give the appearance of being the horns on the head of the wild beast dominating the lid. Between its bared teeth it once bore an "adder's tongue" (fossilized shark tooth). The small creatures on the lid and the base (life casts of spiders, beetles etc.) symbolize the negative forces in the micro-cosmos. The sides of the horn goblet, which was carved by Nikolaus Pfaff, are enlivened by snakes, lizards and insects. Healing powers were attributed to the horn itself, the adder's tongue and also the sculpted branches of coral around the stem and body of the goblet. The unknown goldsmith belonged to the tradition of Nuremberg masters.
Nikolaus Pfaff (1556? Nürnberg - 1612 Prag)
Horn des afrikanischen Rhinozeros (Weißes Nashorn oder Breitmaulnashorn, Ceratotherium simum), Hauer eines afrikanischen Warzenschweines; Fassung: Silber, vergoldet, teilweise bemalt
H. 49,7 cm, B. 27,5 cm, T. 17,7 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Kunstkammer
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