Saint George and Dragon 15th century pendant

By Labortemporis (Marco di Sarò) and Viduquestla (Ezio Zanini)

Choosing a prize for TORNEOINARMATURA is a challenge involving a variety of factors. First of all, historic research is needed to find an unusual object, something well documented and which embodies the spirit of this extraordinary event.

Another key factor is to involve Italian craftsmen in its making, as we strongly believe in local artisans, who carry on old crafts and give visibility to our country's excellent local products.

This year the prize is something special, it is a pendant. We have come to it by taking inspiration from various original pendants of Italian, German and English making, which are located in important Italian and international museums.

A pendant can be considered as something quite banal, maybe obvious, but here is where history and our artisans' skills come into play.

The pendant is composed of two parts, as two are the artisans who have created this Renaissance jewel. The metallic part, its engravings and gilding are the work of MARCO DI SARÒ, known professionally as LABORTEMPORIS, who, this year as in previous years, is the OFFICIAL SPONSOR of the event. He has decided to dedicate his time and professionalism to us to create this gorgeous circular pendant made of silver. The acronym IHS is carved in gold on the back, while on the front there is a finely chiselled frame on a golden background.

Inside this frame, EZIO ZANINI ( has carved in nacre: here there is the remake of one of the best-known iconographic works of the XV century, that is to say Saint George on horseback who is about to deliver the final blow to the dragon. In the background, on the left, the lady is witnessing the killing, while on the right there's a castle on top of a cliff.

Of course, in addition to the symbolism linked to the legend and the Saint who is patron of men-at-arms, there is also symbolism linked to the event.

The power of the scene in the foreground, the fight between St. George and the Dragon, the sword raised to the sky, all representing the tournament as an armed fight requiring not only strength but also courage and purity of spirit, the lady in the background embodying the sweetness and splendour of court life and the castle on the cliff bringing to mind the Fortress of San Leo, the event venue.

The back of the trigram shows the letters IHS, a symbol which was brought back by Bernardino of Siena in the XV century. Used not only for its strong religious significance, it is often found in non-religious situations, on objects of a different cut and material, as a pledge of good luck or blessing for the owner.

Often interpreted in different ways, the symbol is by us interpreted as St. Bernardino of Siena did (who also preached in Forlì, the town where the association organizing the event is from), that is to say IHS is the simple abbreviation for the name of Jesus, as it appears at the beginning of early III-century documents.

It is a an exclusive prize for an exclusive event, rich in symbolism and which can be brought back to various original objects we took inspiration from, not only for its making, but also for the way it was created.

The passion and skill which have been given to us by two of the most talented craftsmen of the old continent in this unique piece, will give a further boost to the brave men-at-arms who will enter the fence of the Fortress of San Leo on 18th and 19th June 2016.

Historical References

The idea behind this kind of prize comes from a round medallion made in Milan during the Sforza dynasty and now kept at the Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (nr 4229) in Madrid. We had a chance to see it at the Exhibition Gold from the Visconti to the Sforza family. Enamels and goldsmith's art in the dukedom of Milan, which was held in Milan at the Diocesan Museum.

This medallion, which is made of silver and contains some golden parts, shows the crucifixion of Christ, finely carved in nacre.
The scene of our engraving can be found in two different pendants:

  • A pendant at the Victoria and Albert Museum (A-77-1923), 1460 (German area)

  • A pendant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art  in New York (1986.10), end of the XV century (German area)

It is not easy to understand the method used to "block" the nacre decoration inside the pendant. Among the original pendants we have studied, we have taken as an example those belonging to the British and German areas at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, especially nr. A.56-1929 from the German area, dating back to the second half of the XV century. Here you can see the system used to fix the two valves, made by folding the front frame over the back frame.

The making of the silver part of the pendant, made with a burin, is taken from a series of Italian pendants (Milan area) dating back to the second half of the XV century and kept at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, especially nr. 17.190.966 and 17.190.968. Here it is possible to see a burin making and a subsequent  niello. 

A very special Thank to CENTRO LINGUISTICO CESENA for the translation of this article from Italian to English.


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