Impossible musical instruments

Aguamanil con centauro Pulse para ampliar Aguamanil con centauro. Sala 27, vitrina 27.18

Pitcher with Centaur

This whimsical object from the late Middle Ages is a pitcher with a spout used to pour water into a basin for hand-washing. It displays a fantastical animal holding an equally imaginary musical instrument. The monster is a centaur: half man and half horse. The piece that connects the back to the rear legs is used as a handle for holding the object. The water, which goes in through the head, is poured out through the orifice that simultaneously corresponds to an undefined musical string instrument that he holds in one hand. The instrument appears to be more decorative than useful. Given his pose, the centaur might have been holding a bow in the other hand for stroking the strings, which the artist attempted to highlight.

Sometimes it´s complicated to know whether or not the models represented by the artists are actual instruments or figments of their imagination, which is quite obviously the case here. The same may be said of the instrument groupings. The symbolic meaning of the music often gave rise to imagery that did not correspond to reality. On certain occasions, the artist´s intent was merely to indicate the generic presence of music or to use it for decorative purposes. Hence, these instruments cannot be used to document others that may no longer exist today.