Hunting Knife

1550-1600 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, The Foyle Foundation Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is a knife used for chopping bones and ripping flesh from animals killed during a hunt. The knife was probably originally part of a set carried in a trousse, a multi-socketed sheath worn on a belt. The set might contain a variety of tools such as saws to cut bone, wide-bladed knives with pointed ends to remove flesh and delicate knives to cut small pieces of meat which were served on a flat knife called a presentoir.

Knives were among the many creations of cutlers, who also made table cutlery, pocket and pen knives, scriveners’ knives, hunting tools, scissors, razors, nutcrackers, swords and even surgical instruments.

Large game hunts were rule-bound and ritualised. The elaborate decoration on hunting weapons gives an indication of how important they were to elite society. Large estates maintained stocks of game to feed their households. Stag and wild boar were revered for their strength. Hunting them was both a means to an end and a symbolic ceremony. Accompanied by music and feasting, hunts were social occasions celebrated in purpose-built lodges. The rituals of the hunt reinforced the hierarchy. Attendants carried out specialised tasks from the maintenance of dogs to the carving of meat. Attendants dissected the kill with precision and served small pieces of raw meat to distinguished guests.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Steel, etched, engraved and partly gilt, bone mounts
Brief Description
Steel, etched, engraved and partly gilt, bone mounts, southern Germany, 1550-1600
Physical Description
Hunting knife, the blade etched with foliage and a hunting scene and partly gilded, the back edge bevelled, the handle with engraved bone grip terminating in a monster's head rising from a capital.
Dimensions
  • Length: 34cm
  • Width: 7.4cm
  • Height: 2.2cm
  • Weight: 0.42kg
Gallery Label
Belinda Gentle Metalware Gallery (Room 116) HUNTSMAN'S KNIFE Ivory handle, engraved; steel blade, engraved and partly gilded Germany; 1550-1600 The scene on this blade is of a hound chasing a stag, a traditional decoration for a huntsman's knife. The distinctive curved end of the blade with two sharp points was for tearing into flesh. Salting Bequest Museum no. M.627-1910(25/11/2005)
Credit line
Salting Bequest
Object history
This is a knife used for chopping bone and ripping flesh from animals killed during a hunt. Knives were among the many creations of cutlers who also made table cutlery, pocket and pen knives, scriveners’ knives, hunting saws, scissors, razors, nutcrackers, swords and even surgical instruments.



The Museum acquired the knife in 1910 as part of the George Salting Bequest. Its provenance before this is unknown.
Historical context
During the 16th century, knives and saws had a variety of uses. Hunting sets, for example, might contain a carving knife, a flesh knife and a saw such as this for cutting bone. Surgical sets also contained saws in this form, used for amputations.



Large game hunts were rule-bound and ritualised. The elaborate decoration on hunting weapons gives an indication of how important they were to elite society. Large estates maintained stocks of game to feed their households. Stag and wild boar were revered for their strength. Hunting them was both a means to an end and a symbolic ceremony. Accompanied by music and feasting, hunts were social occasions celebrated in purpose-built lodges.



The rituals of the hunt reinforced the hierarchy. Attendants carried out specialised tasks from the maintenance of dogs to the carving of meat. Attendants dissected the kill with precision and served small pieces of raw meat to distinguished guests. A hunting trousse, a multi-socketed sheath worn on a belt, contained a variety of tools. Hunting saws cut bone. Wide-bladed knives with pointed ends removed flesh. Delicate knives cut small pieces of meat which were served on a flat knife called a presentoir. Hunting weapons lived on when their warlike counterparts had been superseded.
Subject depicted
Summary
This is a knife used for chopping bones and ripping flesh from animals killed during a hunt. The knife was probably originally part of a set carried in a trousse, a multi-socketed sheath worn on a belt. The set might contain a variety of tools such as saws to cut bone, wide-bladed knives with pointed ends to remove flesh and delicate knives to cut small pieces of meat which were served on a flat knife called a presentoir.



Knives were among the many creations of cutlers, who also made table cutlery, pocket and pen knives, scriveners’ knives, hunting tools, scissors, razors, nutcrackers, swords and even surgical instruments.



Large game hunts were rule-bound and ritualised. The elaborate decoration on hunting weapons gives an indication of how important they were to elite society. Large estates maintained stocks of game to feed their households. Stag and wild boar were revered for their strength. Hunting them was both a means to an end and a symbolic ceremony. Accompanied by music and feasting, hunts were social occasions celebrated in purpose-built lodges. The rituals of the hunt reinforced the hierarchy. Attendants carried out specialised tasks from the maintenance of dogs to the carving of meat. Attendants dissected the kill with precision and served small pieces of raw meat to distinguished guests.
Bibliographic Reference
Blackmore, Howard L., Hunting Weapons, Barrie and Jenkins Ltd, London 1971, Ch. 2
Collection
Accession Number
M.627-1910

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record createdMarch 6, 2007
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