Decorative horse-trapping

From Japan
Late Kofun period, 6th century AD

Gilt copper over iron

The Japanese probably learnt horsemanship from the Koreans during the early Kofun period (about third to seventh century AD). Decorative metalworking skills developed at this time formed the basis of later work dating right through from the Heian period to the Meiji era (that is, from the eighth to the nineteenth century).

Haniwa (pottery tomb guardians) include figures of horses that give some indication of how the harness was attached using leather or textile straps. This trapping was probably attached to the saddle and hung across the horse's flank. The boldly gilded criss-cross design is unusually striking. The border has an elegant double curve at the top and five indentations along the bottom with a pattern of rivet heads.

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More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Length: 12.500 cm

Museum number

Asia JA OA+1254



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