Ellen Marie Magerøy: Islandsk hornskurd. Drikkehorn fra før «brennevinstiden».

Bibliotheca Arnamagnæana, Supplementum Vol. VII.

Redactor: Jonna Louis-Jensen.

2000.  XII + 171 pp.

This book presents the carved decoration on the 37 surviving Icelandic drinking horns from ca. 1400 to the end of the seventeenth century. The fact that the decoration is carved distinguishes Icelandic drinking horns from those of the other Scandinavian countries; the carving on the horns is a part of Iceland's rich heritage of minor art-work on horn, bone and walrus ivory. As well as pure ornament the decoration includes figurative scenes and inscriptions that tell us something about the use of the horns. Apparently they were used for commemorative drinking in a Christian context: to the Trinity, the Virgin Mary, apostles and saints. When drinking customs changed with the introduction of spirits, many of the old drinking horns had the tip cut off or were even cut at both ends with no regard for the decoration. A wooden base was inserted at the wide end, and the horns were used like bottles or in some cases as powder horns. These conversions are the reason why only about 25% of the known horns have survived in their original length. The catalogue, pp. 120-164, gives details of the present location of every horn and also shows that many of the silver mounts are secondary and of foreign origin.

About the author: The Norwegian art historian dr. philos. Ellen Marie Magerøy (b. 1918) is also the author of Planteornamentikken i islandsk treskurd. En stilhistorisk studie [Plant ornamentation in Icelandic wood-carving. A study in its stylistic history], I [Text], II [Plates], Bibliotheca Arnamagnæana, Supplementum V-VI, Copenhagen 1967.