Horse trapping
Tsutsugaki paste resist

This would have been draped over a horse’s rump while it was walking in a public procession. The four characters that surround the wisteria crest read (top to bottom and right to left) fumi uma gomen – please excuse the passing horse. Inside the wisteria crest is the character mine, meaning peak or ridge, as in a mountain. Most likely this is the owner’s name, or part of it.

The designs on the sides are of chrysanthemums floating on water, a motif with a very long history. The details of the petals have been painted in with sumi ink.

For those interested in further reading, antique dealer Lisa Ryan has written a very informative article, Japanese Horse Trappings, on the topic. Click here to link to it. In the format in which it appears, many of the photographs cannot be seen, but a Google search of Japanese horse trappings (or uma no haragake) will turn up other examples.

This character, with its flowing mane, four hooves and flashing tail, is very evocative of a horse.