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Horse Bit

Date:
7th–9th century
Geography:
Made in Andalusia, Spain
Culture:
Visigothic or Byzantine
Medium:
Iron inlaid with copper alloy, gold, and silver
Dimensions:
Overall: 10 5/8 x 7 1/16 x 5 5/16 in. (27 x 18 x 13.5 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Iron
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1947
Accession Number:
47.100.24
  • Description

    This elaborately decorated bit, resembling the spade bit used by some (Western-style) riders today, has a large projecting tongue, or port, that would have been inserted into the horse’s mouth. The bridle was attached to the moveable rectangular plaques, while the reins were strung through the rings on the straight bar, beneath the horse’s jaw. The severity of the bit implies both a well-schooled horse and a skilled rider; a misstep by either would inflict great pain on the beast. The rich inlaid decoration includes Greek monograms, human faces, animal heads, and vine scrolls. Perhaps copied from or inspired by Byzantine art, the Greek monogram likely indicated the importance of the horse’s owner.

  • Provenance

    Raphael Garcia Palencia, Madrid (1919); Joseph Guggenheim(?); [ Gluckselig(sold 1940)]; [ Brummer Gallery, Paris and New York (1940–1947)]

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
468186

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