Aquamanile in the Form of a Crowned Centaur Fighting a Dragon

Date: 1200–1225

Geography: Made in possibly Hildesheim, Lower Saxony, Germany

Culture: German

Medium: Copper alloy

Dimensions: Overall: 14 3/8 x 13 1/2 x 5 in., 8.347lb. (36.5 x 34.3 x 12.7 cm, 3786g)
Overall PD: 14 3/8 (at front feet) x 5 x 13 3/4 in. (36.5 (at front feet) x 12.7 x 35 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Copper alloy

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1910

Accession Number: 10.37.2


The crowned centaur (undoubtedly Chiron, the king of centaurs) appears about to slay the dragon attacking his left side with the sword wielded in his right hand. Already representing a fantastic, composite beast, the form of this aquamanile is further enriched by the dragon whose head and neck, grasped in the centaur's left hand, form the spout. A second dragon forms the handle on the centaur's back. The vessel was filled through a hole in the top of the centaur's head. The centaur is a familiar figure in medieval imagery, appearing most often as the archer, Sagittarius, in representations of the zodiac. A few other surviving aquamanilia are in the form of centaurs, but none of these represent the battle with the dragon. Stylistically, this aquamanile belongs to a group of works in copper alloy that can be compared to a baptismal font cast in Hildesheim (Lower Saxony) about 1225.