Artifacts of pain and suffering
It’s not often that weapons other than guns and knives come up for sale at the auction houses I go to. But recently, a medieval-looking item found its way to one of the tables.
I had bypassed it – I have no use for items that inflict pain or death – until another auction-goer pointed it out to several of us as we stood nearby trying to figure out another item.
I had seen this type of weapon being swung adroitly by knights on horses in some long-forgotten movie. It had a short black handle with a spiked ball hanging from a chain. There on the table, it was a little unnerving because I knew it could inflict just as much damage as a gun – slowly but effectively – to the soft human body. (Click on photo below for a fuller view.)
Was it someone’s toy, I wondered. And how did it get there?
Although I recognized its look, I didn’t know what the weapon was called. So I Googled, and found plenty of websites on Medieval weapons – both as toys and collectibles. The weapon was a flail and was sometimes mistakenly called a mace (it’s more like a club). Both have spiked heads, but a look at photos showed that they were different.
The military flail grew out of an agricultural tool used by European peasants to separate grains from their husks. When peasants were pulled from their fields to fight wars, they took the weapons with them, but not the agricultural ones. Those used in war were made by skilled blacksmiths. The flail was also used in Asian countries but under other names.
The flail was one of several weapons used by knights during the Middle Ages, and with enough force, it could pierce armor and effectively subdue an enemy. It was not the most popular of their weapons, though. That was the sword.
The Pharoahs in Egypt combined a flail with a cross as a symbol of royalty.
At auction, I was not around when the weapon sold, but since it was such a novelty item, I’m sure someone got it for a good price.
The flail was not the only militaristic tool at auction that day. When I wandered to a room where furniture was being sold, I watched as an auction assistant sat one of a group of white metal patio chairs to the side. (Click on photo below for a fuller view.)
Instantly, someone pointed out a strange item attached to one of the arms – an old pair of handcuffs with chipped white paint and a rusty chain.
We all found it quite amusing, and our imaginations went wild about how they got there and what they were used for. That must’ve been some party.
The assistant found this arrangement so unbelievable that he kept pointing out the handcuffs to others as they approached the furniture sale. These were either old handcuffs or they had been left outside in the elements for a long time. The key, I’m sure, disappeared ages ago.
I don’t know who bought the chairs or how much they sold for, but if they were mine, I’d keep the handcuffs on them. What a conversation-starter.