Primitive Horse Art
 By Winniefield Park   •   31st Jul 2016   •   1,124 views   •   0 comments
Is there anyone here that doesn’t have some sort of artwork in their home that depicts a horse? In my house there are several pieces. I have a print by a local artist called ‘The Three Arabians’, several photographs, some paintings by my daughter and a picture of a dragoon on horseback that I bought long ago, when $30 felt like an extravagant amount to spend on an art print. Even people who don’t know anything about horses, have never been near one, and think they are really just big furry dogs with funny feet will have art hanging in their homes that feature a horse.

Certainly, modern art lovers, horse lovers and artists are not the only ones to be captured by the mystic of horses. Horse art has been around a very long time. Some of the earliest depictions of animals and humans are of horses. Our relationship with horses has changed for the most part, from food source to companion. Early art may have been talismans to ensure a good food supply or offerings in gratitude of a good hunt. Whatever the reason primitive man sat down and spent hours, if not days, carving or painting detailed and elegant representations honouring equines.

The Oldest Horse Art
The oldest depiction of a horse may be that of a horse head found in Southern Germany near the city of Ulm. The find included three intricately carved mammoth bone sculptures: a lion-man, a water bird and a horse. Each sculpture is no more than 2 inches (5cm) high. These artifacts are estimated to be 31,000 to 28,000 years old.

The Vogelherd Cave, also in the vicinity of Ulm, Germany has been a treasure trove of primitive tools and art. Here is where the famous Vogelherd horse was found. This elegant and intricate sculpture is thought to have been carved 30,000 BCE – 29,000 BCE. The Vogelherd cave may have been a place where early humans came to share the bounty of their hunt. In this primitive dining room of the mid-Paleolithic era are examples of hunting points, scraping tools and many sculptures of animals such as mammoth, deer, wolf, bison and wild cat. All the animals are carved from mammoth ivory. The horse head, neck, most of the fore and hindquarters and upper legs are still intact, but the delicate legs are gone. The sculpture is tiny, with the remaining parts only an inch high and slightly less than 2 (5cm) inches long.

Another incredibly detailed miniature sculpture was found near Lourdes, France. This tiny creation was originally thought to have been carved in mammoth bone, but it has been discovered that it is actually carved in whale bone. The origins of the whale bone may have been from a carcass washed ashore or bartered with people indigenous to the coastal regions of France. It's thought that this artifact is about 13,000 years old. Most of the body, head, tail and the upper legs of the Lourdes horse is still intact, showing an amazingly correct representation of an equine.

Early Painting
Early man used the materials at hand to create beautiful and reverential sculptures. But, they painted too. Perhaps the most famous primitive paintings of horses are in the Lascaux cave complex in France. Colorful horses seem to dance amongst renderings of bison, deer, bulls, cats, birds and other animals. There is an estimated 2000 paintings in all, including abstract and geometric images. Of the almost 900 animal depictions, 360 are equines. And, these animals unlike the tiny sculptures, are full sized murals. One image of a bull is 17 feet (5.2 m) long. The horses are running, standing or falling over. The paintings were done using mineral pigments and etching into the stone walls, The paintings are an estimated 20,000 years old. Unfortunately, the Lascaux cave paintings can only be enjoyed online or in print The caves have suffered from poor ventilation, too many visitors and high powered lighting. Now, they are visited only once a week by one person who checks the conditions within the cave.
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