Tåby Figurine Is A Medieval Candlestick

i-59fd402d530b068c7089671be7ae8750-ljusstake.jpg

Bronze candlesticks, early 15th century, made in Germany or Flanders. Top: Rute parish, Gotland. Height c. 18 cm. Photograph by R. Hejdström. Below right: Fragment from Tåby parish, Östergötland. Photograph by M.R.

i-475b6e5d56af104883c7e6759821044d-P1000722lores.JPGBack in November I checked out the enigmatic Tåby figurine and blogged about it. Now I've found out what it is: it's part of a 15th century candlestick and there's a complete specimen in the Gotland County Museum. The Gotland specimen was kept above ground, in use and in repair from the Middle Ages until recently at a farmstead in Rute parish. Arthur Nordén wasn't aware of it, but wrote of the Tåby figurine, "It is possible, for instance, that it may have served as a decoration on a chandelier, as holder in a candlestick or some such."

More like this

Last Thursday I went to Norrköping and checked out the Town Museum's collection of prehistoric metalwork. Most of it is decontextualised, but I did manage to collect some useful data on the movements of my 1st Millennium aristocrats across Östergötland. Among the things I handled was,…
I wrote my PhD thesis about the largest prehistoric cemetery on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. The place is named Barshalder and straddles the boundary between Grötlingbo and Fide parishes. The first graves are from the early 1st century AD and the last from about the year 1100. Some…
My paper on the re-use of Late Iron Age picture stones during that same period (mainly in late male graves) has been published in English and Swedish parallel versions of Gotländskt Arkiv 2012. That's the annual of the Gotland County Museum. Have a look! Questions and comments are most welcome.
In 1995 a gold hoard was found at Vittene in Norra Björke parish, Västergötland. Its contents had been amassed over two centuries, and it was committed to the earth in the 3rd century AD. A fine book on the find and subsequent settlement excavations has recently been published and is available…

Nifty! It is extremely satisfying to see this little puzzle solved - thank you for the update.

By PennyBright (not verified) on 20 Jan 2009 #permalink

Hah! Karen, you get everywhere!
Intereting colour on the bronze on the top candlestick. Are the figures solid, or hollow? I'm trying to re-create bits of medieval technology, and have been reading up on manufacturing methods.

The figures are solid. Probably cast with cire perdu.

When I showed this entry to a couple of Medievalist colleagues, they said "Of course it's a candlestick. We thought you knew!".

Guthrie!

You'll find a beautiful little video about medieval aquamanilia casting at http://www.bgc.bard.edu/research/video/research_video_aquamanillia.shtml

These objects are cast hollow around a core, thus a bit more complicated than Martin's candlestick above. But the video itself is very instructive, shedding light on the coring, moulding, casting and finishing processess, as well as on medieval metallurgy and it's close connections to alchemy and philosophy. It's certainly a little pearl!

Cheers, Anders

By Anders Söderberg (not verified) on 20 Jan 2009 #permalink

Cool! I hereby retract my suggestion that it could be a roman votive figurine (posted on November 12th, 2008). It is a lovely find and lovely ID. But you should nonetheless include a ruler in you photos, Martin...

I thought it would be lost wax, but that it is solid is interesting to know.

Anders, thanks for the video, it is very interesting.

Hi, I'm not sure if this topic is still open but I thought this may be of interest to you.

My Dad dug up a figurine with similar characteristics to the Taby figurine (with similar lentoid eyes, belt and prematurely terminating legs) We have recently had it logged by a local authority archaeologist in England and have had it confirmed by an expert at the British Museum as part of an early 16th Century continental candlestick, as you have since found out. Please see the link below for photos, description etc..

http://www.finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/426842

Our figurines similarities with the Taby seem to outweigh those suggested to the example at the V&A museum.

It would be great to find out the current whereabouts of the Taby figurine (is it in your possession or at a local museum?) to link back to the finds.org.uk site.

Please let me know what you think.