Important Cultural PropertySaddle with tortoise-shell pattern of mother-of-pearl inlay

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  • 1 piece
  • Lacquered wood
  • Front arch H29.0, back arch H30.3, seat-wood L39.0
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Kyushu National Museum
  • H-147

This work shows the pioneering style of raden saddles in the Medieval period. It comprises Maewa (pommel), Shizuwa (cantle) and two side boards and has undulations called “sea” and “shore” outside the pommel and cantle. A saddle in this form is called an Umiari saddle. For both the pommel and cantle, while the shore is wide and rises gradually, the sea is narrow. The width of the side boards is wide and the cantle is large and takes a three-dimensional shape that hangs out. One of the unique features of this saddle is the relatively straight line from the top of the pommel to the shoulder and to the toe. The decoration of the saddle tree includes black lacquer covering the entire area and abalone shells that are cut into a testudinal shape and pasted thickly on the inside and the outside of the pommel and the cantle.
Handprints are hollowed out on the shoulders of the pommel. Since the finish work of the handprints is rough, it is estimated that the original saddle did not have the handprints on the pommel and that these handprints were hollowed out later. Since some abalone shell pieces are pasted along the outline of the handprint, it is possible that the overall raden decoration was also added later. Thus, although many elements were added later, this saddle provides valuable information on the changes from ancient saddles to medieval saddles since Umiari saddles without handprints are very rare.