Carved Walnut “Braccia” for “Pallone col bracciale”
Rome, XVII century
L 22 cm, diameter : 21 cm
A rare Roman carved walnut “Braccia” for “Pallone col Bracciale", a traditional team game played with a hollow spiked glove gripped on the inside and worn on the forearm the protruding wedge shaped blunted spikes known as “Bischeri”.
The braccia we present is personalized with a coat of arms representing a dove and it would be used to strike inflated balls back and forth on courts often marked out on town squares or streets. A designated server called a “mandarino” first puts the ball into play, but each receiving player can reject any of the serves.
Three players per team, battitore, spalla and terzino, had to hit the ball into the opponents half of the pitch.
The ball was an inflated leather ball which lost size and weight as the game progressed. The inflatable inside consisted of a pig’s or bull’s bladder but it had to be inflated every few strokes
As in the game of tennis, scoring is by fifteens and tens with the team that wins 12 games the winner of the match.
This game, of ancient Greek-Roman origins, began to be popular in Italy from the sixteenth century when the first official regulations were invented by Antonio Scaino and for more than four hundreds years it has been the undisputed protagonist of sports in the courts of Central and Northern Italy: in Rome many competitions and demonstrations were organized for the will land delight of the Popes.
The popularity of this sport, whose matches were traditionally the subject of great bets, was certainly due also to some famous players (even the future Pope Pius 9th was a ball player). It is said that the 16th century Renaissance artist Veronese was exiled from Verona for a time for putting out the eye of another player with an ill-judged swing.
The stories that circulated about them, as often happens, ended up becoming true legends of this game that was for centuries what football is today.
3 800 €
12 000 €