I'm trying to answer a question (link in Spanish) in the Spanish language site about a funny definition a user found in the Royal Spanish Academy's dictionary. It follows:
- m. Cruz de la Orden de San Juan, quitado el brazo derecho.
hammer: The Cross of the Order of St. John, removing the right arm (or arrowhead).
I suppose the name 'hammer' refers to the figure that remains when you remove the right arrowhead of the Maltese Cross:
I've been trying to find information about the origin of this meaning of the word martillo. So far I have found a book, written in 1828 in Spanish, that says that the order was divided into knights, priests and servants, and also says that (my translation, sorry):
The current badge of [the knights] is an eight-pointed gold cross, crowned and enameled in white, angled in gold lises, which they carry in the buttonhole of the coat, pending from a black ribbon. The friars also wear it, but they must have the same cross of white cloth on the manteo or dress on the left side, whose distinction is also used by professed knights; and the servants carry it of only three arms, of enamel or linen, according to their condition.
This is the only reference to such a version of the cross, the same book also states that a martillo is "the cross of St. John with the right arm removed, as the servants must carry it", so it seems clear that such a version of the cross did exist, and that it was the emblem the servants must wear. I just would like to know:
- Does (or did) this version of the cross really exist? If so, why is the right arm of the cross the one to be removed and no other?
- Does imagery that depict this version of the cross exist? Where can I find an image (a painting or similar) of it?
- If so, did it have a similar nickname in other languages or is it just something that happens in the Spanish language?