Mazer and cover

Medieval, mid-14th century AD
From Flanders (modern Belgium)

With the shields of Flanders and Ghistelles combined

A mazer is a drinking bowl made of wood. Although used principally by those unable to afford expensive utensils, its use by the wealthy was not unknown. This example has been suitably embellished with metal mounts and enamelled decoration.

For whom was this prestigious item made? As with many objects where contemporary documentation is lacking, the use of heraldic motifs can provide clues of ownership. The bird standing on top of the cover has a shield hanging around its neck. The shield is enamelled with the arms of Flanders. These arms are repeated on the silver foot. However, it is the extraordinary survival of an associated piece which really points to a potential owner. The embossed leather case made to protect the mazer in transit also survives. On the case the shields of Flanders and Ghistelles are combined, almost certainly an allusion to the marriage of Louis de Flandres, the illegitimate son of Louis de Mâle, Count of Flanders (1346-84), to Mary of Ghistelles.

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More information

Bibliography

C.H. Read. and A.B. Tonnochy, Catalogue of the silver plate, (London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1928)

J. Robinson, Masterpieces: Medieval Art (London, British Museum Press, 2008)

Dimensions

Diameter: 14.50 cm (mazer)
Diameter: 15.90 cm (cover)
Diameter: 19.20 cm (case)

Museum number

M&ME AF.3116

MCM2879

Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks

Location

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