The Unicorn at Bay, ca. 14951505
Wool warp, wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts; 12 ft. 1 in. x 13 ft. 2 in. (368 x 401 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1937 (37.80.4)
In this scene, the unicorn at bay is tearing open a hound while a hunter sounds his hunting horn for its capture. Some of the hunters use boar spears in their assault upon the unicorn. The bars below the spearhead prevented such vicious animals as boars from climbing the shaft of the spear and wounding the huntsman. Shafts were often made from knobby woods, such as the hawthorn, whose gripping power was sometimes improved by nicking the bark of the living sapling to produce calluses and thick scar tissue. Tough straight woods, such as ash, were used for shafts. They were sometimes wrapped crisscross with leather straps nailed on with heavy brass studs.
At the back of the scene, an older man carries a flask and a bundle, perhaps the refreshment for the leader of the hunt. He is taking directions from a man who is holding an ax next to a felled tree. The fallen tree may represent the firewood a lymerer received as a reward for tracking the hunted animal to its lair.
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