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- Author Andreas Dürer?
- Date of production 1534
- Place of creation Kraków, Poland
- Dimensions height: 36 cm, width: 47 cm, weight: 2.484 kg
- ID no. MŻKW IV/ 150
- Founder Seweryn Boner
- Object copyright Kraków Salt Works Museum in Wieliczka
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska’s Virtual Museums project
The horn of Salt Diggers Brotherhood of Wieliczka is a unique Renaissance work of art commemorating the past wealth of Kraków salt mines. It is the only historical object of such preserved in Poland — the genuine horn of an aurochs (the species that became extinct in Poland in the 17th century, the ancestor of cattle), precisely framed in silver embedded in various golden ornaments.more
The horn of Salt Diggers Brotherhood of Wieliczka is a unique Renaissance work of art commemorating the past wealth of Kraków salt mines. It is the only historical object of such preserved in Poland — the genuine horn of an aurochs (the species that became extinct in Poland in the 17th century, the ancestor of cattle), precisely framed in silver embedded in various golden ornaments. It weighs almost 3 kilos and it was created in Kraków in 1534 upon the order of Seweryn Boner, who at the time managed over salt mines and was the governor of the Kraków Royal Castle. The horn was given to Wieliczka salt diggers. The figure shown in the horn’s base is a salt miner depicted as Hercules wearing antique armour, which was to underline the hard work of the Wieliczka salt diggers, lasting hundreds of years.
The horn itself is held by three silver ornamental bands bearing the emblem of the Salt Diggers Brotherhood of Wieliczka and the coats of arms of Polish kings. The coat of arms of Sigismund I the Old is the Polish eagle girdled with the letter “S”, while his wife’s, Queen Bona Sforza’s, is the snake of the Sforza family. The Founders’ coats of arms, that of Seweryn Boner and that of his wife Jadwiga, were also engraved on the horn. On the horn’s base we can see stones, plants and even a creeping snake and a lizard.
The horn is not only a perfect example of artistic craftsmanship, but also a precious historical souvenir. It was kept in the treasure of the brotherhood, or in the treasury of the church in Wieliczka, taken out for the greatest ceremonies held by the senior member of the brotherhood and hung on a chain (even today we can observe such a tradition during the celebrations of the Kraków Shooting Society).
We are not completely sure who created the horn of the Salt Diggers Brotherhood of Wieliczka. It is presumed that it was Andreas Dürer, the younger brother of Albrecht Dürer — the famous German Renaissance painter and printmaker. It is known that their other brother, Hans Dürer of Nuremberg, decorated the chambers of the Kraków Royal Castle during its reconstruction supervised by Seweryn Boner, thus it is assumed that the silver frame of the diggers’ horn was made by the goldsmith Andreas Dürer, who might have arrived in Kraków then and made the horn that Boner had ordered for the brotherhood.
Elaborated by Klementyna Ochniak-Dudek (Kraków Salt Works Museum in Wieliczka), © all rights reserved