View our current selection of antique horse covers and saddle blankets below:
Learn More About Antique Horse Covers and Saddle Blankets
Antique Horse Covers and Saddle Blankets have been woven by peoples from all across the world for centuries. Important items that were simultaneously beautifully woven and utilitarian, these unique creations are a fascinating legacy of mankind’s historical dependency on horses. Because of the inherent importance and value of horses in previous centuries, especially to tribal and agrarian societies, such animals were closely looked after and tended to by their owners. Artisanal horse covers, composed by master weavers, were one way of displaying one’s status, as well as demonstrating the importance of one’s relationship with his horse.
Traditionally, these special horse covers will feature culturally significant symbols and motifs, giving them the added functionality of an identifying banner. At the Nazmiyal Collection, we are proud to offer an exciting array of these traditional horse covers, from cultures as far afield as Persia and China.
Impeccably woven and consisting of fine materials, these exemplary compositions are uniquely beautiful – and uniquely culturally important examples. Fascinating even without the context of a horse or the social milieu that gave rise to these remarkable pieces, antique horse covers boast an intriguing and unique variety of shapes, the eccentricities of which, especially compared to traditional, rectangular antique rugs, are stimulating. A unique class of antique weave steeped with social and cultural tradition, antique horse covers offer fascinating insight into the societies responsible for them.
Unique and Rare Items
Horse covers were an item that served both a utilitarian function and are some of the finest examples of artistry from various cultures. However, because of their use, we have few examples of them surviving today. The saddle was placed on top of the horses, which caused wear. Also, they were exposed to the elements, which caused metallic threads to tarnish and deteriorate. In addition, the body fluids of horses are acid and will break down natural fibers such as wool, cotton, and silk quickly.
During certain times of civil unrest, garments, and accouterments that displayed badges of rank and identification were intentionally destroyed to protect the person and their family during times of war. One example of this occurred during the Chinese revolution at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1911, Chinese dignitaries and military officials burned any item that contained their insignia to prevent capture and almost certain death. Other pieces fell prey to the ravages of fires, natural disasters, and time. For this reason, the few examples of horse trappings that we do have in existence today are exceptionally rare finds and highly collectible.
Those rare pieces that we do have show the exceptional skill and artistic talent of those who created them. In Chinese, Indian, Persian, and Turkish cultures, the creation of these special items of rank was only allowed to be done by those in special guilds. Members of those guilds often began to study at an early age and had to go through many hard years of education, training, and apprenticeship. They were held to high standards and were of exceptional talent to be allowed to represent their ruler with their work. They were not the work of common artisans and often had their own rank and status.
In tribal cultures, such as those of the Caucasus Mountains, nomadic tribes of Turkey and Persia, and Berber tribes of Morocco, the women often did the weaving. These pieces may or may not have signified rank, but they often contained special symbols to offer protection and fortune to the animal or the owner.
Examples of Symbols and Their Meanings
On horse trappings, clothing, and banners, rank could be represented by certain animals, plants, colors, and patterns. Here are a few examples of various symbols of rank and their meanings from some of the cultures represented in this collection.
- Amulet – nomadic tribal symbol for protection
- Camel – wealth and rank in nomadic tribes
- Chin-lin, mythological animal – high ranking Chinese military official
- Crane with a red cap – high ranking Chinese state official
- Crescent moon and peacock – Indian Mughal state officials
- Imperial Dragon – Chinese Emperor, first used during Han Dynasty
- Lion and sun – Persian royalty and nobility
- Lion holding a sword – Indian Mughal Emperors
- Phoenix – Chinese nobility
- Scissors (X pattern) – Moroccan symbol for metalworkers, held in high regard
- Snow lions and wheel – Tibetan royalty and high government officials
- Two dragons surrounding a thunderbolt – Bhutan royalty and officials
In our collection at Nazmiyal Gallery, we have horse coverings from China, Persia, Tibet, and tribal examples such as those from the Bakhtiari, Yomut, and Qashqai tribes. Our collection is always changing, and you never know what treasures you might find.
These are exceptional pieces for collections and estates for their beauty and rarity. They are wonderful pieces for framing. We enjoy bringing these exclusive pieces to you when we can find them. If you have any questions or would like to add one to your collection, please do not hesitate to contact us.