Mongolian Culture – Saddle

It is said that the first saddles were simple fabric strips which were wrapped around a horse back that have evolved over time. The improvement of this item was an innovation and an important advancement especially in the military field. Thanks to the saddle, the riders weight was better distributed, fact that favoured both the horse, whose suffering was minor and endured longer distances, and the rider, who was also able to travel further distances due to the higher level of comfort.

In addition, the inclusion of the stirrups, simple strips of clothing with rings that allowed the rider to climb the horse more easily, was a key fact in the evolution of fighting on horseback. Thanks to these elements, the rider could control his posture and also the animal, only with his feet. Therefore, hands were free to, for example, shoot an arrow. In the sense, the Hun people stood out among many others.

Historically, horses have been extremely relevant in Mongolian life. This evidenced in its religious culture in which there are prayers for the horse spirit Jayagagchi, the shamanist tngri of Fate. Its own language also reflects this importance since it includes a wide range of words related to these animals and their care.

The Mongolian saddle is made of a wood frame whose shape changes depending on the style or the area, but it typically presents a high pommel covered in leather or cloth and a pair of leather panels at both sides. These panels usually show decorative designs, which can be made of metal or fabric. Sometimes, decorative elements can be embossed on the leather panels.

Author: Noelia Fernndez Garca

Photograph: “Mongol Saddle” by Gary Lee Todd, Ph.D. is marked with CC0 1.0