Half-Shaffron (Horse's Head Defense)

Date: ca. 1570–80

Geography: probably Milan

Culture: Italian, probably Milan

Medium: Steel, gold, brass, leather, linen (woven textile and fiber)

Dimensions: H. 15 1/4 in. (38.7 cm); W. 10 3/4 in. (27.3 cm); D. 7 in. (17.8 cm); Wt. 2 lb. 11 oz. (1208 g)

Classification: Equestrian Equipment-Shaffrons

Credit Line: Gift of William H. Riggs, 1913

Accession Number: 14.25.1666


This shaffron belongs to an Italian armor that is today mounted on the Milanese bard from the Collalto armory, which forms part of the equestrian group in the main hall of the Museum's arms and armor galleries. While the slender bands etched with trophies of arms, vases, birds, and grotesque creatures on a dotted and blackened ground are typical for decoration on Italian armor of the period, the motif of a gilded leaf appearing regularly down the center of the bands of trophies is unusual and especially distinctive.

Although today missing its side plates, the shaffron is also noteworthy for preserving its original lining of coarse-woven hemp filled with vegetable fiber. The spike is modern, the gilding has been restored.