A branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and El Paso

Pferde Friday, September 15, 2023

Contributed by Meisterin Apollonia Zwamstricker

Guess what? It’s Pferde Friday!

I want to dive further into social archeology which I mentioned in my first post. That is the study not just of an object but to see the bigger picture that surrounds these items. We want to explore how it fit in the context of the historical world we are researching so that we can better understand what we seek to create.

At the Rossfechten Symposium in Germany we had lectures to start and end each day. One of these lectures was unique as it had nothing to do with riding, horse training, swords or lances. This lecture was given by Virág Somogyvári from Hungary, an art history student working on her thesis.

Her lecture was on the subject of a collection of items, the bone saddles. These are a collection of wooden saddles covered in carved bone ornamentation. She was not examining the construction of these saddles or riding in them. Rather her research is about the artwork displayed on them. What does it mean? How were these saddles used? When were these saddles used? Were they ever even ridden in? What context did they exist in? Who created them and why?

Her thesis suggests that these saddles were often given as gifts, specifically for weddings due to the romantic sayings and imagery depicted on them. Very few shows signs of wear. (Though one German example features imagery with more war-like implications, possibly a birthday gift to a young lord.)

I have attached one of her many research papers and a link to a project she undertook of photographing several of these saddles so that they can be viewed as a 3-d object from all sides, as close to viewing an extant in person as many of us will ever get.

For the challenge a direct connection would be copying some element of or a whole saddle. Once removed, carving bone using similar techniques or borrowing an image from the saddle and reworking it in another medium. Two steps removed would be looking at the sayings, what they mean, where else can similar things be seen? Continuing to extrapilate one might find themselves exploring any number of intricacies involved in a medieval wedding from food to clothing to traditions that one of these saddles may have been gifted during.