Monday, June 6, 2011

Small iron snake, possibly colonial


Coiled iron snakes were placed atop hearths in colonial homes, supposedly to ward off evil spirits. The one with the raised head in the first two pictures is just 6 inches long, small enough to fit on a mantel. The third photo is from a 2009 post on 18th century items that I found on a blog about gun craftsmen called Contemporary Makers. The post says that snake is c. 1770 and was unearthed in the Williamsburg, Va., area. The majority of such snakes have been found in Virginia and North Carolina, according to that blogger.

4 comments:

  1. Your snake is most likely from the Africa, Burkina Faso, Lobi iron currency - google "Burkina Faso iron snake" and click on images, and you will see many examples.

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  2. Thanks, I'd like to contact you via email. My email is candlerarts@gmail.com

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  3. I live in the Williamsburg area, and study 18th century ironwork and 18th century culture. I have never seen such an item in any of the archaeological collections that I have studied in and around the Williamsburg region, nor have I found any 18th century reference to the practice of placing iron snakes in or around the hearth to "ward off evil spirits". Can you direct me to some scholarly research on the subject?

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  4. Hi, Anonymous, please email me at candlerarts@gmail.com

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