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Narwaltand

Periode: 1600-1700

Afmetingen: H: 35cm, B: 78cm, D: 13cm

Inventarisnummer: V05004

This narwal tusk, fixed on a brass plate by means of a bone or ivory sleeve decorated with four black bands, was originally kept in the Amsterdam Pharmaceutical Museum. This pharmaceutical connotation is caused by the fact that until the early 18th century narwal tusks were thought to be the horns of unicorns. As unicornu the alleged horn of the mythical animal was much prized as a pharmaceutical ingredient. It was supposed to have a strong medicinal power against poisoning and pestilence, and it had a life prolonging quality.The narwal tusk mistaken for a unicorn horn, was also a regular feature in 17th century cabinets of curiosities. Even at the end of the 17th century, when suspicion that the unicorn existed only in fables became ever stronger, an avid collector like the Amsterdam magistrate Witsen invested much effort in trying to verify the claim by some travellers that unicorns were sighted in the far east.
H. Bosman-Jelgersma, Pillen Poeders en Patienten, Amsterdam 1983

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