Place of Origin: Tibet
Date: 19th Century
Overall Length: 720mm
Nomadic tribes take great pride in their horses and horsemanship—for example the Nihangs (nomadic Sikhs) referred to their horses as ‘Jaan-bhai’ which may be translated as ‘life-brothers’. The importance Tibetans place on equestrian life is demonstrated by the elaborate and highly crafted equipment produced and now preserved in museums and private collections. This crupper, a strap buckled to the back of a saddle and looped under a horse’s tail to prevent the saddle or harness from slipping forward, is no exception.
At the centre sits a prominent circular boss of pierced and gilded iron with a central golden wheel or dharmachakra. From this boss four iron rings project in an X pattern which are then riveted to four leather straps with blue, woven textile coverings. The straps are mounted with eight rectangular plaques each of pierced and gilded iron. The lower pair of straps is securely mounted with two heavy iron rings at the ends which would have taken a padded leather band to sit under the horse’s tail. The rectangular panels and central boss are all pierced with symmetrical bifurcating scrolls; the iron rings being chased and gilded with the same scroll design but in a larger format on an undecorated iron surface, which creates a pleasing effect.
A relevant article on saddle and tack, stirrups and bridles is in the 2006 book by Don La Rocca, Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armour of Tibet, p.214.
The object is mounted in a large X shape on a contemporary metal stand.