EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
The term 'Passau wolf' actually derives from the talismanic perceptions used on weapons originally produced in that city, once a prolific blade making center. The stylized interpretations from these early and crudely inscribed or stamped zoomorphic devices became widely adopted, particularly in the burgeoning center of Solingen. The original application of the term was actually 'Passau art' and was with reference to not only the talismanic properties purported to be imbued in the swords, but to magical amulets in other forms as well.
Magical charms, amulets and talismans were widely adopted in the context of arms and armour with thier obvious associations in the often mortal circumstances of thier use. There were many adaptions and stylizations of these 'wolf' figures, and contrary to popular belief, there are no developmental or regional typologies nor chronological linears. It should be remembered that much as with many magical charms, amulets and apotropaic devices, these are often personalized rather than strictly copied.
The geometric 'crosshatching' seen here is an element often seen in various magical contexts of the period, and certain features of this configuration do resemble those seen on the running wolf variations.
While modern perceptions often view these interpretations of magical amulets and stylized symbolism as nonsensical, it is important to remember it is not necessary to believe the explanations given, but it is essential to try to understand what those using them believed.