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"...Il palazzo ampio cento piedi e tanto grande il tappeto che vedi. Lane colorate vi ho intessuto in abbondanza, e simulano dei fiori colori e fragranza. Il suo manto orno di fiori a cento a cento eppur par leggero, da volare nel vento."
Sala del Museo del Tappeto di Taher Sabahi
Oriental Caparisons. Horse blankets and saddlecloths
Torino, Sabahi Gallery - 26.09.09|31.12.09
I turkmeni e i loro tappeti
Torino, Galleria Sabahi - 20.11.08|25.02.09
SUZANI - Embroidery from Central Asia
Torino - 23.03.07|21.04.07
Oriental Caparisons. Horse blankets and saddlecloths
Torino, Sabahi Gallery - 26.09.09|31.12.09

Taher Sabah presents a unique collection of horse blankets and saddlecloths.

It is a collection of extraordinary charm, which testifies to the strong bond between man and horse that still exists in the East; anyone attracted to the equestrian arts will have the opportunity of admiring some of the most elegant Oriental trappings, and of noting that for an Oriental horseman, nothing is too precious for his steed.

At the same time, the exhibition reveals the artistic skills of all the Oriental peoples, from the Bosphorus to India: enthusiasts of Oriental and Islamic art will be fascinated by techniques of weaving and ornamental motifs related to the oldest cultural tradition of the populations.

The fans of Eastern ethnography can, in a comparison between the artifacts presented, find much of interest: among the producers keenest in making horse blankets and saddlecloths are some of the most ancient and fascinating of Oriental populations, the direct descendants of the Turkish and Mongol armies of conquest; the differences in style, the different decorative patterns used often respond to differences in the social and tribal structure  of the people who made them.

There is no place in the Orient that does not weave or knot blankets for horses, as, as well as carpets and kilims. These are very varied in shape and decoration, and are intended either to cover the entire back of the horse, just the saddle, or to be interposed between the back of the animal and the saddle. Rug artifacts have since ancient times, lent themselves to these functions better than others, since the knotted fleece offers high friction and contributes to the firmness of the saddle and hence to the stability of the rider. The equestrian art enjoys equal consideration in both urban and rural areas, and also among the nomads who still travel in the eastern valleys. Thus, in addition to objects of refined workmanship, woven in the most prestigious urban workshops, which focus more on the decorative than technical aspects, there are other, much simpler covers with sober decorations, but equally functional.

The collection on display shows a vast and heterogeneous Oriental production area by area, region by region, using examples dating from the 16th to the 19th century, to show the evolution of techniques and decorations; it mainly comprises saddle blankets and under-saddles, and caparisons. There are also some covers for camels and ceremonial under-saddle caparisons.

The Persian group of saddle blankets is the largest and includes a considerable number of saddle cloths in knotted rug or kilim, provided with systems (shaped cuts, straps) to help fix them in place. In addition, there are several horse blankets of a traditional rectangular shape stretched out to form two pectorals.

Finally, the collection is enriched with some artifacts of central Asian production: this is the most heterogeneous part of the collection, in which figure objects of nomadic production, warm and rustic in feel, but also elegant urban products, linked to the tradition of the suzani, using an embroidery needle. There are numerous zin-e-asb, knotted at the beginning of the century by the Turkmen populations located along the north of the country and adorned with the traditional gul motifs of those people, but also the so-called at-djoli, the large horse blankets made more enveloping at the rear with the addition of triangular segments and accompanied by long fringes. The ones made with additional wefts and with simple decoration on a flat-weave base are joined by others made using the jijim technique, sometimes of silk.


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