To the Unicorn in Kuks

The Kuks Hospital is an important Baroque monument in the Hradec Králové Region, built by Count F. A. Špork. In addition to the well-known sculptures of Virtues and Vices by Matyáš Bernard Braun, we can also find another attraction on the premises of this architectural gem – Unicorn. The head with horn guards the entrance to the well-preserved pharmacy, which can be visited during guided tours.

Our goal was to document* this “horn” for the purposes of our project. In fact, it is not the horn of a mythical Unicorn, but a tooth from a narwhal, a strange cetacean that lives in cold Arctic waters. The left spiral tooth growing from the narwhal’s upper jaw can reach up to 3 metres in length (making it the longest tooth in the animal kingdom), while the right tooth remains small. Females usually have both canines short and, as with males, these are the only teeth they have. According to recent scientific findings, the narwhal tooth is interwoven with thousands of nerve endings and is used not for fighting but as a highly sensitive sensor.

And what was the reason for placing the “horn” in the pharmacy? It was believed to have healing powers, and was also supposed to serve as protection against various poisons.

(*) The tooth was 220 cm long and 4.8 cm wide.