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Ceremonial mace from the treasury of Basle Münster

Key data

Basle(?), probably C14

Wood painted black, strip of silver, gilded copper, cut rock crystal

length 21 cm

Inv. 1870.624.


Fifteenth century inventories of the treasure of Basle Münster list several ceremonial maces, but none of the descriptions matches this one, for which there is a counterpart only in inventories dating from 1511 and 1525: "Item ein steckhen mit silber strichen umbwunden, pro pedello in magnis processionibus" (a stick with a silver strip wound round it to be carried by the 'Pedell' in large processions). The 'Pedell' was the beadle. It was his duty to arrange prayer meetings and the celebration of the Mass, to see that the order of the Mass was observed, to prepare the liturgical instruments and to collect the offerings. The beadle of the chapter of Basle cathedral was a priest. He walked in front of processions with a mace as the symbol of the dignity of his office. Depending on the occasion he carried a simple staff or a more lavish mace. This ceremonial mace consists of a wooden stick painted black with a strip of silver wound round it in a spiral. The top end of the stick is encased in a plain gilded copper ferrule, and the decorative top consists of a whorl shaped knob with a cone shaped tip made of rock crystal in a gilded copper mount.

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