Shagreen Lacquered Wood Saddle

Shagreen Lacquered Wood Saddle. Of typical shape, the core wooden structure lacquered in red on the base and lined with white shagreen leather on the front and back, the profiles enhanced by steel borders, each inlaid with bats and Chinese-inspired knotted roundels, the seat padded with a woollen cushion and decorated with colourful coarse wool fabric with red and black crosses, the belt decorated with silver-thread embroidered floral motifs and white metal drop-shaped plaques with filigree work and a kirtimukkha at the bottom, the centre of the plaques occupied by a once-encrusted gilt drop-shaped applique embellished with two dragons running after each other, the plain steel stirrups secured to the saddle with leather strings,

Sino-Tibetan

Late 18th – early 19th century.

approx. 38.5cm x 36cm.

Provenance: from a UK private collection, purchased in an antique shop in Kings Road, London, 15 years ago (early 2000s).

*This saddle is remarkable for the quality and extent of its pierced and chiselled decoration, particularly the figural masks worked in low relief in the centre of the pommel and cantle plates. These masks are more artistically accomplished and on a larger scale than virtually any other known examples of low-relief ironwork from Tibet or China. The chiselling of the scrollwork is equal to that found on other high-quality Tibetan iron objects, such as cup cases and the fittings for doors of large temples or monasteries, and it compares closely to the pierced ironwork found on the best Tibetan saddles and bridles.

*Metmuseum

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