Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Pisanello - horses with slit nostrils

Italian artist Pisanello left us a number of drawings showing horses, mostly heads, and elements of horse tack, mostly bridles with curb-bits.
Among them there is a collection of horse heads and horses with slit nostrils, ancient practice (started during the Bronze Age, eg Tell el Amarna relief et XVIII Dynasty other chariot horses)  hopefully abandoned worldwide.
 In my post about the Hungarian horses I quoted one author from XVIII century, 
and repeated many times in various publications, stated about peculiar custom among the horsemen of the Hungarian Kingdom:
''..the Hussars and Hungarians slit their [horses] nostrils, with a view, it is said, to mend their wind, and, at the same time, to prevent their neighing in the field; it being affirmed that horses, whose nostrils have been flit, cannot neigh. It has not indeed been in my power to examine this particular, but it seems natural to think, that the operation can only weaken their neighing.

to this I can add another quote today :
‘’[..’]while the Hungarian and Transylvanian horses are light and agile. As the means of strengthening their respiring faculties, the Hungarians slit their horses' nostrils and also adopt this method to prevent their neighing in times of martial encounter.’’
 This practice had been widespread, for example in the XVII century we are told by Jacques de  Solleysel, Le Parfait Mareschal ( 1674) that nostrils splitting was practiced in the Spanish domains (including the Americas), in the Holy Empire (especially the military horse), and in France (but only horses with a broken wind).
As late as 2nd half of the XIX century Icelanders practiced this 'technique,' in North Africa as late as the XX century, and in Mongolia well into 1920s in order to heal broken-winded horses, but allegedly well into the 1970s in Iran donkeys had their nostrils slit.
William Youatt, The Horse, 1870, wrote:

''The nostrils should not only be large, but the membranous substance which covers the entrance into the nose should be thin and elastic, that it may more readily yield when the necessity of the animal requires a greater supply of air, and afterwards return to its natural dimensions. 
Therefore, nature, which adapts the animal to his situation and use, has given to the cart-horse, that is seldom blown, a confined nostril, and surrounded by much cellular substance, and a thick skin; 
and to the horse of more breeding, whose use consists in his speed and his continuance, a wider nostril, and one much more flexible.
 The inhabitants of some countries were accustomed to slit the nostrils of their horses that they might be less distressed in the severe and longcontinued exertion of their speed. 
The Icelanders do so to the present day. 
There is no necessity for this, for nature has made ample provision for all the ordinary and even extraordinary exertion we can require from the horse. Some very powerful muscles proceed from different parts of the face to the neighbourhood of the nostrils, in order to draw them back and dilate them.''

I did a drawing of this horse tack

Perhaps more information on the equid nostrils slitting in this article (I have not read it, the prof. Mary Littauer was very knowledgeable on the subject of ancient practices and horsemanship)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Aleksander Orlowski - Bashkir lancer with his horse

one of my most favorite horse painters imci pan aleksander Orlowski, who left partitioned Polish Kingdom to seek a better day in Sankt Petersburg, Russian Empire, and found the imperial patrons quite ready for his talent.

So to start of the cold month of February -
a nice, large and thus very detailed study of a Bashkir horseman and his moun;
our bellicose Bashkirs being part of the Russian Imperial forces participated in the Napoleonic wars, sort of irregular cavalry along with the Kalmucks, Tatars, Kirghiz and other nomads of the Russia's steppes at that time; at first they were often mixed a bit into the Don Cossacks host, and they since 1812 they had their own regiments. - in English dr Stephen Summerfield goes into more detail in his book on the Cossacks and other irregular cavalry of the Russian army of the Napoleonic period.

 Note the typical light steppe saddle with a pillow - jarczak [Polish] yarchak - and his bridle arrangement with a third rein for leading.
 The Ufa Museum has a large collection of maestro Aleksander's works showing Bashkirs.
We should remember that maestro Orłowski was a veteran of the failed Kosciuszko insurrection  and was very keen of drawing and painting his memories of that hot and ultimately failed struggle.

Nota bene a contemporary military illustrator Azat Kuzhin is a Bashkir from Bashkortostan - you can see his work here.
Azat  has done some illustrations for the Karwansaray Publishers - Ancient Warfare and Medieval Warfare magazines et al. 
Also for others -  like these.
I also have a privilege of knowing Azat and calling him a friend and colleague.
                          Vivat Polish-American-Bashkir  friendship -  :)


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Skokloster Castle - XVII century collections

last day of January - time flies, it will be spring soon :)
The Skokloster Castle, Sweden, was built by Carl Gustaf Wrangel, who was a skilled cavalry commander and later a politician, a governor of Swedish Pomerania, today divided between Poland and Federal Republic of German.

The collections at the castle are very fine and diverse, but they are very interesting when comes to horses, cavalry and Polish arms and armor captured by the Swedes during the wars with Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth - so called Polonica.
The horse collection special exhibit is here (in large tiff files )- with great baroque saddles and horse tack, and portraits of ladies riding, and a model stable etc.

But there are also some Polish ones - saddles and bridles

also some examples of the winged hussar armor; some of the winged hussar armor suits seem to have been converted later on, or so the appear, with 1670s additions etc

beautiful anima armor


Monday, January 30, 2017

Edwin Lord Weeks - North Africa

 I would like to add some more images by maestro Weeks
this time from North Africa and Western Asia - Persia- I used to like those old Hollywood movies about the tales of the Arabian[Persian and /or Indian] Nights and even the ones about the French Foreign Legion.
back to the subject -  in the US there are many, many Orientalist paintings within the vast warehouses of many a museum. But we do not cherish them too much nowadays ..
So let us explore some more  the Bostonian's brush work - in addition, you can even read about this travels an adventures in a book he wrote and illustrated himself.

North Africa

finally the master in his studio


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Splendors of India - Edwin Lord Weeks

beautiful equestrian cultures of India in the art of Bostonian Edwin Lord Weeks

much in common with the Old Poland equestrian culture I dare say 

all images are from wiki commons