Headstall (bridle)

From Granada, Spain, late 15th - early 16th century AD

A headstall is the part of the bridle or halter that encompasses the horse's head.

Leather straps pass through the flat sections of the headstall; the two medallions forming the junctions for the bands pass behind the ears. Each section is divided into two compartments. One is decorated with cloisonné enamels, with a translucent green and blue background, and an arabesque pattern in opaque red and white. The second section is made up of an arabesque pattern formed by strips of gilt wire on a gilded background decorated with copper granulation. In each section the enamelled and gilded compartments are reversed, producing an extremely rich decorative effect with less costly materials.

The headstall forms part of a group of objects, mostly sword-hilts and scabbard-mounts, that are associated with Abu cabd Allah Muhammad Xi (Spanish name: Boabdil), the last sultan of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada (reigned 1482-92). These items were not necessarily made for Moorish patrons; a number of Christian Spanish inventories record weapons of a 'Moorish' type decorated with enamel.

The headstall is similar to one that can be seen in use in a painting by the Venetian artist Vincenzo Catena (about 1470-1531), Holy Family with a Warrior Adoring the Infant Christ (National Gallery, London).

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Headstall (bridle)


  • Headstall



More information


J.A. Levenson (ed.), Circa 1492: art in the age of (Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art)


Length: 38.000 cm
Width: 21.000 cm

Museum number

M&ME 1890,10-4,1


Gift of Sir A.W. Franks


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