I recently visited the "Treasures of the Order of Teutonic Knights" in the order's building (yup, the knights are still active today ! Though, sadly, not very actively sword-fighting on horseback anymore) located in Vienna, Austria, and among all the priceless artefacts, one caught my attention as being weirder than all others. And that means a lot. I present you the curious object of the day : A huge coral with gold plated silver fittings, from wich are hanging a load of shark teeth. If that's not weird, I'm ok to change my name to Wiener Schnitzel right now. And here is what they had to say about what might (or not) be my christmas present this year :
Adder tongues centrepiece for a dinner table. Circa 1400.
Apart from being used as a salt cellar, the suspended shark teeth were thought to be tongues of poisonous snakes with the power to detect poisoned food and drinks. In medieval times, it was believed that these "adder or dragon tongues" exuded moisture when brought near a poisonous substance. This piece is one of only three existing today worldwide : the two others are to be found in the Vienna Kunsthistorische Museum (from the 15th century) and in Dresden (from c. 1500).