Important Cultural PropertySaddle with bush clover motif in mother-of-pearl inlay

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  • 1 piece
  • Lacquered wood
  • Front arch H27.0 rear arch H30.0 bars L44.0
  • Heian period/12th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • H-495

Japanese saddles consist of three parts: the bars the rider sits on (igi), the front arch (mae-wa, pommel) and the hind arch (shizu-wa, cantle). Cushions (kurashiki) are used for riding. This structure is unique to Japanese saddles.
On the black lacquered surface, the picture is expressed by the sophisticated blending of small and relatively thin pieces of turban shell cut into different shapes such as the shapes of flowers, of leaves, of tree branches and so on. Although the techniques employed themselves are not particularly minute, there is a beauty of simplicity in this saddle. With its elegant design exemplifying the taste of the era of the Fujiwara clan, this piece represents the best part of the art of the Japanese saddle.