Date: 17th–18th century
Culture: Eastern Tibetan or Chinese for the Tibetan market
Medium: Iron, gold, silver, wood, leather, textile
Dimensions: H. 10 3/4 in. (27.3 cm); L. 22 1/2 in. (57.2 cm); W. 11 3/4 in. (29.8 cm)
Classification: Equestrian Equipment-Saddles
Credit Line: Purchase, Rogers Fund and Bequest of Stephen V. Grancsay, by exchange, 1997
Accession Number: 1997.214.1
This saddle represents a particular form found in Tibet, one that is Chinese or strongly influenced by Chinese types. It belongs to a small group of closely related saddles that may stem from a single workshop or reflect a specific type developed in one region. Notable features are the lively dragons, chiseled free from the scrollwork ground, and the unusual decorative technique involving silver damascening of the entire surfaces of the saddle plates, with select design elements highlighted by mercury gilding over the silver. Also very distinctive is the use of three layers of decoration: the outer layer of pierced scrollwork with long tendrils deeply undercut to give an appearance of depth, a second layer forming a subsidiary ground underlying each saddle plate and consisting of an iron grill damascened in silver to create a stylized cloud pattern, and a layer of colored cloth directly on top of the wood of the saddle-tree.