In ancient cultures, especially in the archaic Greek world, already the need was increasingly recognized to invent supports in stone or terracotta, intended to suspend logs above the floor in order to improve air circulation, to facilitate better burning and also to prevent them from moving and falling out from the fireplace.
Later on, with the evolution of metallurgy mostly in the central European cultures at the time of Halstatt and La Tène (8th / 5th century B.C.), these supports began to be made of iron.
Among the earliest known examples of firedogs, we can mention those found in archaeological excavations, both in Gallic and Celtics territories. These were often characterized by stems capped with animal heads, generally ovine or bovine in character.
Nevertheless, further on in linguistic evolution, the word used in the main European languages to define firedogs made a clear reference to the figure of the dog (Chenets in French, Firedogs in English and Feuerhund in German) according to that ancient belief, considering them to be the guardians of the house. Strangely, only in Italian language we use a different term – Alari – which comes from the latin Lares, the Gods protectors of the house.
This outstanding and rare pair of firedogs, characterized by massive quadrangular stems, ending with powerful carved and engraved dog heads, perfectly embodies the sense of the word that the ancients chose to define these household objects. The finely dotted and zigzag decoration on the stem, along with the noticeable traces of use – on the horizontal bar and on the arches supporting the stems – confirm the uniqueness and ancient origin of these two outstanding firedogs, remarkable for their strong sculptural evidence which documents the high quality level of workmanship achieved by the European iron workshops in the late Middle Ages.
PAIR OF FIREDOGS
Wrought and engraved iron
Late 15th century
cm 60 x 20 x 48 h