A Marten Head is a type of protective amulets from the Italian Renaissance. Composed of a thin sheet of gold, and tooled to simulate fur, Marten Heads were decorated with silver, rubies, pearls, other jewelry and attached to Marten fur. The most ornate example of Marten Head, featuring in the illustration below, is dated to 1550-1559. Of Venetian origin, it is currently conserved at The Walters Art Museum, in Baltimore.
Martens – as well as other weasel-like carnivores – were commonly associated with childbirth in the Renaissance. Wearing their furs was thought to increase fertility and to protect one during pregnancy. This is because several hundred yeas ago people believed that martens conceive through their head and therefor the pregnancy was considered chastised.
Giving a women a Marten Head was an act of protection and caring.
Artist: Kayla D. Younkin
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Click here to learn more about what this license means
Thiss means you are free to: Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format; Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material. As long as you: Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made; ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.
Want more images?
We will be publishing more images in the coming months. If you would like to be alerted when they are published, please subscribe below.