The stechzeug was a highly specialized form of armor worn in the tournament known as the Gestech which was fought on the open field without a barrier to avoid collisions. The stechzeug had no leg protection, relying on a large stuffed cushion, stechkissen, suspended from the horses neck which protected horse and rider in the event of a collision. A special saddle, without cantle, allowed the rider to be unhorsed by a well placed strike. The breaking of lances and unhorsing of an opponent were goals. As the armor was a rigid shell weighing about 60 pounds, comprising the huge frog mouth helmet bolted to the breastplate, being unhorsed in one would have literally been a bone shattering experience. This plate with remnants of its original leather waist belt, finished the bottom of the breastplate and served to distribute the effect of an impact. It probably was also used to rest on the saddle and relieve the rider of some of the weight of the armor, prior to confrontation. Surviving stechzeug evidently number perhaps less than forty, with 14 in the Hofjagd und Rustkammer, Vienna, seven in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, and a hand full of single examples, all in public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum, and Philadelphia museum. These last two are freely restored and virtually all are composite with mixed parts. Most are incomplete below the waist.
Provenance: Cincinnati Art Museum