• söðull

Side-saddle

artist unknown 1751

The side-saddle displayed here is one of the most glamorous examples of older types of women saddles, a so-called hellusöðull (plated saddle), so named from being bedecked with decorative brass sheets. It is believed to have belonged to Guðrún, daughter of Treasurer Skúli Magnússon. She was born in 1739 and so she was 12 years old when she got her side-saddle. It is made out of pine, lined with leather and green cloth on the inside that was fastened with red screws. When the side-saddle was altered the initials of the owner and its date were quite damaged but the back rim had the inscription GSD and anno 1751.

The fantasy-like imagery of the side-saddle that references motifs and stories from the Bible and old Norse folklore was probably very appealing to the young girl. In addition to the initials and date, three angels adorn the back rim and below them are unicorns. On the right side is an image depicting Jonah the prophet after the whale vomited him ashore. Jonah reads in a book and has a bouquet in his hand. The left side depicts Sigurd killing the dragon Fafnir. The side board is decorated with an angel with two trumpets in his mouth and branches in his hands that swerve to the sides; flowers, birds, man shooting a tiger with a bow and possibly the Ark of the Covenant. The front of the side board is decorated with a man with a sword raised to strike a panther, a man in a carriage and another raising his hand as a sign of blessing. The circular plate on the front rim has three angels, the sun and the moon and more decorations that most likely reference a particular story. Below the plate are lions and further out there are images of the sacrifice of Isaac and Lot leaving Sodom.

 

Þjms 2641

The National Museum of Iceland