Royal Armouries

Carved Wooden Hands

Images

colour photo of a carved wooden right hand

Carved wooden hand from the Line of Kings. British, (XVII.113)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden right hand

    Carved wooden hand from the Line of Kings. British, (XVII.113)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden left hand

    Carved wooden hand from the Line of Kings. British, (XVII.114)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden hand

    Carved wooden hand from the Line of Kings

Statistics

Object Provenance: British , ranging from 17th – 20th centuries
Object Number: XVII. 113-14, 123 & ‘52’

Carved Wooden Hands

Description

Pairs of wooden hands provided the finishing touch to the figures on display, and also allowed them to be properly armed as they could grasp suitable weaponry. Today 76 hands survive (39 lefts and 37 rights), and judging by Armouries records, new hands were provided as and when they were needed.

The majority are made from softwoods and while some were carved in poses to ‘hold’ weapons, many show working adaptations – and damage. One solution was to literally wire the weapon in place – three hands still have wire through their fingers and others are suitably drilled.

Twenty three of the hands are in a closed position, and an additional two are almost closed.

The attention to detail varies – ten hands have well defined finger nails, Eleven have lines along the back to simulate gloves. There are records of gloves being provided for display figures, but fashions in the display costume of these supporters varied over the centuries. Of the 76 survivors, ten pairs are clearly identifiable and a further eleven have lost their partner. Today those whose fixings survive are in the main secured by a screw fixing (23), with three spigot, three ball and two rod attachments.

Statistics

Object Provenance: British , ranging from 17th – 20th centuries
Object Number: XVII. 113-14, 123 & ‘52’

Themes Menu

Line of Kings