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Home > Auctions > 30th November 2021 > Byzantine Horse Bit

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LOT 1345

GBP (£) 350 - 450
EUR (€) 410 - 530
USD ($) 460 - 600

£324 (EUR 381; USD 430) (+bp*)

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Byzantine Horse Bit

14th-16th century AD

A Byzantine or early Ottoman iron curb bit consisting of long arched shanks with U-shaped cheek-pieces, one end of the shanks with U-shaped openings through which a bigger rein ring passes; the body of each openwork shank is embossed; the end of the shanks with D-shaped extensions with rectangular loops, attached to them are two U-brackets, the left one open, the right one once holding a chain; mouthpiece consisting of three parts: a bar with a rectangular cross-section, fitted with three holes, attached to the arms and ending with round wide terminals; a second rod with articulated rings, connected to the upper part of the shanks. 340 grams, 19.5cm (7 3/4"). Fine condition.

From an important private Dutch collection; formerly in the collection of Dr. Hanns-Ulrich Haedeke (1928-2017), author of ‘Schmuck Aus Drei Jahrtausenden’ and who became the director of the Museum of Klingenmuseum in Solingen, Germany, in 1968; the collection was formed in the early 1960s.

See Витлянов, С., Старобългарското въоъжение (The Old Bulgarian Armament), София, 1996, fig.1, pl.XXIV and fig.5, for an identical example.

This type of horse bit, although much decorated and gilded, is visible on one of the most important equestrian artwork of the 15th century - the Cappella dei Magi in Florence painted by Benozzo Gozzoli, representing the Three Kings visiting Christ depicted in costumes of early quarter of 15th century. One of the Magi represents the penultimate Roman Emperor John VIII Palaiologos. All the cavalrymen in the artwork had heavy curb-bits (with short and curved shanks, as in our specimen) and heavy, single reins.