This painting was inspired by the beautiful saddle and ancient piece of felt made by Pazyryk artists, these ornate object are thousands of years old and found in Kurgans, the frozen burial tombs of the Pazyryk people Altai Mountain region. The saddle is housed at the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.
Eastern Altai, Pazyryk Burial Mound 1
Felt, leather, horsehair
5th century BC
L 119 cm, w 60 cm
This cover of thin red felt trimmed along the edges with strips of leather is decorated with applique designs in coloured felt. On the sides of the cover are two identical compositions: a winged griffin, standing on the ibex he has overwhelmed, holds in his beak one of the victim's horns; the ibex's forefeet are bent under him, while his hind legs, together with the hindquarters, also twisted around, turn upwards; the head faces backward.
According to the traditions of ancient Altai art, the animals' bodies are emphasized by applique designs in the form of a dot, triangle and drop.
On either side the saddle cover has three pendants of yellow felt trimmed with red horsehair and lined with leather. The outer side of each pendant shows an applique design in coloured felt of a moufflon between two horned tiger's heads. The cover is highly decorative.