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Breast Rippers Torture Device, 16th/17th C

Hand forged spring steel with two arms supporting two curved claws each; designed to be forced apart and then released on the breast or other tissue to inflict painful disfiguring wounds. This example virtually identical to that pictured and described in Robert Held’s "Inquisition, A bilingual Guide to the exhibition of Torture Instruments from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Era" (1985), Example #57, pages 136 & 137. Held writes, "Cold or hot, the four claws slowly ripped to formless masses the breasts of countless women condemned for heresy, blasphemy, adultery and many other "libidinous acts", self-induced abortion, erotic white magic and many other crimes. In various places at various times- in some regions of France and Germany until the early nineteenth century- a "bite" with a red-hot ripper was inflicted upon one breast of unmarried mothers, often whilst their creatures, splattered with maternal blood, writhed on the ground at their feet." Overall length 5 3/4", width 2 1/4"; with light pitting and dark brown rust patina. A very scarce early implement of torture.