European Decorative Arts and Sculpture
Shield (Targone) for the Game of the Bridge (Gioco del Ponte)Made in Pisa, Italy, Europe
Artist/maker unknown, Italian
Painted wood; iron
1977-167-759Bequest of Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch, 1977
LabelAn adaptation and continuation of a venerable medieval civic contest, the Game of the Bridge (Gioco del Ponte) was a mock-battle held annually in the Italian city of Pisa with almost no interruption from 1568, the date of its establishment, to 1807. The male inhabitants of the neighborhoods north and south of the Arno River, which divides the city, would meet in battle over a bridge and fight to gain control of it and to invade the opposite side. The participants wielded specially made wooden shields, which they also swung as clubs, and wore obsolete medieval and Renaissance helmets and body armor originally designed for warfare but altered for the game. They also personalized the combat gear with the bright colors and mottoes (war cries) of the individual squadrons on each side. This shield was made for the Dragoni squadron.
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