Boar Spear


Not on view

The obtusely pointed oval head is reinforced by a heavy mid-ridge, and almost entirely covered with etched decoration of foliate strapwork. A rivet at the bottom of the socket serves for attaching the toggle, carved from staghorn and tied on with leather straps. The strong wooden shaft is deeply grooved and crosscut, which creates a surface of short lobes for about two-thirds of its length.

These spears were specially designed for the hunt of board and bear. The short but wide double-edged blade would inflict a heavily bleeding wound that would quickly disable the animal; the toggle would stop the on-rushing board from impaling himself too deeply and would keep the huntsman at a reasonably safe distance from the slashing tusks. The heavily lobed surface of the shaft allowed the huntsman a firm grip, even if the wood were slippery with rain, dew, or blood. Sometimes ash saplings were selected, and while still alive their bark was nicked repeatedly in order to grow scar tissue to create the desired knobby surface (gebickte Schäfte).

Boar Spear, Steel, wood, bone, German

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.

Detail, side a