A Rare Italian Shield For The Pisan Gioco Del Ponte

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Lot 200
A Rare Italian Shield For The Pisan Gioco Del Ponte
Probably 18th Century

£ 1,500 - 2,000
US$ 1,900 - 2,500
A Rare Italian Shield For The Pisan Gioco Del Ponte
Probably 18th Century
Of poplar and of elongated kite shape round at the top and cut-off straight at the bottom, the outside incised and gilt with a running pig of St. Anthony against a checkerboard ground, the interior left plain (handle missing, minor damage and worming)
109.3 cm. high

Footnotes

  • An example of the unique form of shield (targone) used by participants in the Gioco del Ponte (Game of the Bridge) of Pisa, probably best known from the helmets with characteristic vertically-barred visors, often adapted from original war or tournament helmets, used in the same contest

    The Gioco is fought annually on the Ponte di Mezzo over the Arno, between the parties of Mezzogiorno (south of the river) and Tramontana (north of the river), represented by teams (squadre drawn from their respective administrative areas magistratura, and was fought between combatants wearing half-armour, and using the targoni, attached to their right arms, as clubs. It is definately recorded for the first time on 22 February, 1568, though there are unconfirmed traditions that it went back much earlier, and even to ancient Roman times. It was held regularly until 1782, when it was banned on the grounds that it had become too violent and was causing public disorder. It was allowed, exceptionally, in 1827, but not again until 1935, when it was revived, only to be suspended because of the war. It was held again regularly from 1950, but now, instead of fighting, contesting teams pushed a cart on rails against each other. It was again suspended after 1963, but since 1982 has again been held regularly

    The targone offered here bears the colours and device of the Magistratura di Sant'Antonio

    See Il Gioco del Ponte di Pisa, memoria e ricordo in una cittá, catalogue of the exhibition held in the Palazzo Lanfranchi, Pisa, June-July 1980

    Cf. two other examples in the C. Otto von Kienbusch Collection, nos. 303 and 305
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