Saturday, February 21, 2015

Adventures in London- Part 4- Wednesday

Precursor:  An unbelievably busy few weeks in my non-horsey life has seriously eaten away my barn time, leaving me with no posts or pictures of interest to share.  In addition to that, I spent the first half of this week on a trip to New York City with a very full schedule.  I very nearly wrote a post about what I saw at the Met, but decided to instead resurrect another nearly-finished-but-never-published museum post from my drafts.  Enjoy! 

I really need to write these London posts already before I lose what little momentum I have left on them, so be prepared for less detail than my previous posts.  Also, almost all of these pictures were taken at the British museum, where I was apparently not very good at taking pictures of descriptions of artifacts, so excuse the occasionally vague descriptions.

First up is a group of some sort of stone slabs depicting horses.  I thought these were the plaster castings of carvings from the parthenon, but I'm almost positive the parthenon ones are below.  Your guess is as good as mine.  I'm about 90% sure these are Greek.  
Apparently they didn't teach convoys of horses to leave a horse-length between their horse and the carriage in front of them in ancient Greece.

There were also many beautiful examples of Greek pottery. This type of pottery was known as red figure pottery, because the figures were the reddish-brown color of the clay.  The pots were painted everywhere except where they wanted the people (and horses) to go.  This was a newer style that became popular after the black figure style, which was just the opposite.  The figures were painted in black paint, leaving details such as the eyes in the natural color, as well as the rest of the pot.

Okay THESE are the plaster castings of carvings from the Parthenon.

The concept of naked riding just seems wrong somehow.  This carving depicts the lesser known Lord Godiva.

As much as any horse is cute, this horse is not cute. 

Whenever my horse stops to scratch like this while I'm riding, my trainer calls it an emergency itch.

Maybe your horse wouldn't be acting up so much if you had your heels down.
This next one was from some other temple that escapes me.

This was one of the top ten pieces the map recommends you see.  It's map approved.
If I remember correctly, it's the head of a chariot horse from the moon goddess' chariot (I think)

Scary parrot mouth
Technically these next statues aren't horses, but my blog has a place for the awesome and hooved.  The section on Assyria had lots of great horses in some of the better preserved stone in the museum.
"Khorsabad The Palace of Sargon

This area Mainly contains sculptures from the city and palace of Khorsabad, built for the Assyrian King Sargon II (721-705 BC). The pair of human-headed winged bulls stood originally at one of the gates of the citadel, as magic guardians against misfortune."

"Attack on an enemy town

Assyrian, about 865-860 BC

A high official, wearing an ankle-length coat of scale armour, shoots towards an enemy town.  A chariot waits behind, while a vulture plucks at the body of a dead enemy."

"Crossing a river

Assyrian, about 865-860 BC

Ashurnasirpal's boat is rowed across the river and hauled ashore.  The royal chariot is beside him and his horses swim behind. An attendant draws the king's attention to the captured town that appears on the next panel to the right."

There were also many panels depicting the lion hunt, which I apparently did not document the descriptions of.  

The african art also featured horse-shaped objects.

As did the Asian art

See the horses?

This next piece is technically not horse related, but it's incredibly beautiful and so delicate it shook whenever someone walked nearby.  

"Gilt silver openwork and filigree crown inlaid with kingfisher feathers and hardstones (some missing)

Late Ming-early Qing dynasty, 17th century AD

The decoration of this ornate crown of 'cage' construction includes flower heads, flaming pearls, dragons and phoenixes.  It would have been worn by a lady of high birth.  

Not all the horses I saw were exactly what one might call conventional...

exhibit A

Exhibit B
I also spied this bit in the exhibit on ancient Syria.

"Horse Riding

This horse bit has large bar cheek-pieces for attaching the bridle and holes for the straps.  The knobbed snaffle must have been uncomfortable for the horse but enabled the rider to control it with the slightest movement of the reins. There are considerable signs of wear at the junction of the two rings in the centre, indigating that this object had been extensively used before it was buried."

I was not good at documenting signs to remind myself of which exhibit was what on the latter half of my museum trip.  So I'm fairly sure all these photos came from the area devoted to the areas around ancient Syria and Iran. 

"Stone relief showing horses

This fragment was originally part of a larger Assyrian relief showing a team of horses drawing a chariot. The Assyrians campaigned regularly in western Iran during the 9th and 8th centuries BC, and horses were among the items of booty that they particularly valued for their chariots and cavalry."

"The Cordoba treasure

Important hoards of silver artefacts were deposited in the Iron Age, and hte example displayed here was found by chance in 1915 at the Molino de Marrubial, on the outskirts of Cordoba.  The objects had been buried in a pit, the coins and two lumps of silver were in the bowl with the rest of the hoard outside.  The treasure includes a torc, eight armlets,the head of a brooch (in the form of a pair of horse's heads), rough lumps of silver and other fragments. The coins, 82 native and 222 Roman, show that the hoard was buried about 100 BC. Some of the objects are damaged and distorted, and the hoard might well have been the stock of a silversmith."

Last but not least of the artifacts was the Lewis Chessman, another of the museum's top ten.

"The Lewis Chessmen

In 1831 a remarkable hoard of carved walrus ivory was discovered on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles, Scotland.  It consisted of 93 pieces and included 78 chessmen, 14 large gaming counters and an elaborately carved belt buckle.  Eleven of the chessmen are at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh and the rest of the hoard is at the British Museum.  When found, some of the chessmen were stained red. The earliest medieval chess sets appear to have combined red with plain ivory rather than black and white pieces familiar to the game today."

The day ended off really rather well with a tour of Buckingham palace! No pictures were allowed inside, but suffice it to say it was amazing.  We were allowed to snap a few pictures in the garden out back.


  1. Fascinating stuff! I love seeing how horses are depicted and described in ancient cultures.

    Also- naked riding? Sounds totally uncomfortable. And awful. And wrong.

  2. So amazing! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. love all these pictures and the history!! that asian jade pony (lying down) is maybe my favorite :)