Damascus: Horseshoe Makers

Date: fifteenth century

According to an account by French traveler Bertrandon de la Brocquière (d. 1459), the shoes made by craftsmen in Damascus are one of a kind. They are ‘light, thin, lengthened towards the heel, and thinner there than at the toe. They are not turned up, and have four nail holes, two on each side. The nails are square, with a thick and heavy head’. The shoe is never put into the fire, which is possible as the horseshoe is very thin. Damascene horseshoe makers pare the hoof using a pruning knife. Also mentioned: Blacksmith; Maker of swords.

Citation: Wright, Thomas (trans.), Early Travels in Palestine (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1848. Reprinted: Mineola NY: Dover Publications 2003), from the Travels of Bertrandon de la Brocquière (1432-32), p. 304.