Shaffron

Steel horse helmet, brass trim, protruding spike
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Steel horse helmet, brass trim, protruding spike

Date:

c. 1575

Artist:

Italian, Milan

About this artwork

Chivalry—with its connotation of the knightly ideal—was intimately connected with the horse (cheval in French). A knight took care to protect his mount, on which he was dependent for the mobility and speed required in both attack and retreat. In Roman times, some heavy cavalry used armor made of iron or bronze scales to protect their horses. From the twelth century on, knights covered their steeds in bands of iron mail (a network of interlocking rings). By the fifteenth century, full-plate armors were not uncommon. This shaffron, or headpiece, is etched in gilt bands with decoration on a finely dotted ground. Riveted between the eyes is an elongated conical spike, perhaps inspired by the horn of the mythical unicorn. A manifestation of great power and wealth, the shaffron has been valued for centuries as an object of beauty, not just as a tool of warfare and sport.

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Title

Shaffron

Origin

Italy

Date

1550–1600

Medium

Steel with gilding

Dimensions

H. 35.6 cm (14 in.)

Credit Line

George F. Harding Collection

Reference Number

1982.2102q

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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