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France, anonymous1500 - 1525

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

This wrought-iron casket is covered in black leather which is richly embossed with foliage. On the front is an emblem in the form of a Burgundian fire‐steel pierced with arrows. The words OY PARUT are inscribed on the lid. From 1348 to 1482, much of the territory of the Low Countries was ruled by the Dukes of Burgundy. In 1430, Philip the Good founded the elite Order of the Golden Fleece to enhance the prestige of his dynasty. The Cross of Burgundy and the fire‐steel were symbols of the order and were subsequently used in the ensigns of the Burgundian and, later, the Habsburg Netherlands. A fire‐steel is a small metal object which is struck with a flint to generate sparks and start a fire. The example shown here is in the shape of a letter B, alluding to the Burgundian Empire. Caskets of this kind were used for storing jewellery and valuable documents. They were probably also given to women as gifts, to be used as dowry chests.

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