Artifact of the Day
Northern Italy (late 1500s)
Iron. Broad leaf-shaped double edge thrusting blade, twice slotted on medial line, supported by pierced ironwork with attached cast bronze helmeted masks at center. At base is pair of outwardly curving arms to hold match, the ends of which are shaped as grotesque heads (dragons?). At base of head is openwork knop whose segments are fashioned as faces. Conical socket with turned molding below & pair of langets securing head to velvet-covered octagonal section wooden staff studded overall with large brass-capped nails. Red tassel at base of head. Decoration of head limited to incised floral motifs on socket & symmetrical decoration of armored man & nude woman within lobated cartouches, above & below which are acanthus leaves; the whole on dotted ground.