Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Curb Bit

mid-16th century
probably Italian
Iron alloy
L. 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm); W. of mouthpiece, 4 5/8 in. (11.7 cm); Wt. 3 lb. 6 oz. (1531 g)
Equestrian Equipment-Bits
Credit Line:
Gift of William H. Riggs, 1913
Accession Number:
Not on view
This rare type of bit is described in a sixteenth-century treatise as "a defense in time of war so that the enemy cannot grab onto it with his hand." Grabbing the bit, or pulling it out of the mouth of an opponent’s horse, would make it difficult or impossible for a rider to control his horse in the press of battle, potentially leading to his defeat or death.
William H. Riggs, Paris (until 1913; his gift to MMA).
Flint. Flint Institute of Arts. "The Art of the Armorer," December 7, 1967–April 1, 1968, no. 34.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Bashford Dean and the Creation of the Arms and Armor Department," October 2, 2012–October 13, 2014.

Fallows, Noel. Jousting in Medieval and Renaissance Iberia. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2010. pp. 243, 246, fig. 149.

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