A 16th Century South Italian Stone Carved Coat of Arms
On a bespoke metal base
Italy, Apulia, circa 1550
Height 61 cm
Width 40 cm
This large stone carved coat of arms comes from the medieval South Italian town of “Viggianello”, near Lecce.
The first written document attesting the presence of Viggianello is the Bull of Alfano, Archbishop of Salerno, dated 1079, in which is mentioned Vineanellum; The name Vinea-Nellum would indicate the particular dedication of the area to farmland and the lack, at the time, of vineyards.
Nowadays the town still uses the 16th Century coat of arms depicting the union of the two ruling families:
-Sanseverino della Rotonda (whose insignia is a crenelated tower on a three pointed hill)
-Chiaromonte (whose insignia are two stars)
Underneath the motto, in shortened latin, meaning either: Ius Fero – to bring justice, Ius Fert – the right to bear, Tu Si Fero – you bear.
Originally it would have hung over the main entrance of a palace or, because of its size, more likely above one of the civic gates of the fortified town.
The “ Pietra Arenaria”, sandstone, has been extensively used since ancient times for buildings, sculpture and carvings because it is easy to work and handsome, with tones differing from grey/light blue to yellow. The town of Alghero, in the north-west of Sardinia, was built entirely from sandstone coming from the coast, including the walls and all the fortifications; The Romans used it in the last quarter of the second century A.D. for the construction of the Porta Nigra (Trier, Germany); Another example is the well known town of Lecce where, in the 17th century, literally every building was covered in exuberant carved figures and ornaments.