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other regions of Eurasia; 3 - the investigations where the question
concerning early nomadic traditions in the folk culture of the 19th-20th
centuries was raised from the standpoint of the folk-lore material.
The result of the detailed historiographic analysis appears to be rather
negative, and the author refrains from associating himself to the
majority of the specialists absorbed by the tempting and striking
hypothesis on "historic-genetic" or "cultural-genetic" connection between
Scythian-Siberian animal style and folk animalistic art of the 19th-20th
While analysing archaeological and ethnographic material, the author
preferred to adhere to more strict methodical principles. 1. Comparative
analysis of the pieces of Central Asiatic decorative applied art of the
19th-20th centuries and those of Scythian-Siberian animal style should be
essential in character and in no way proceed from the considerations of
"general impression". 2. Comparison of art pieces of the two epochs
should reveal not only similarities, but differences as well. 3.
Comparative analysis should be based not on the contraposition of
singular artefacts, but on quantitatively representative groups including
functionally and morphologically similar items.
A numerous group of artefacts produced by Central Asiatic artisans of the
19th-20th centuries is confined to the stirrups decorated with zoomorphic
images (Chapter II, Figs. IV-XLI).
The decoration of 102 stirrups is analyzed in the book (or 77 units, if
each pair of identical stirrups is considered a single specimen).
Major part of the stirrups used in Central Asia during the 19th-20th
centuries were manufactured by local artisans: the Mongols, Buryats,
Tuvinians, Altais (stirrups of undoubtedly Chinese production are not
numerous). All the types of stirrups with zoomorphic decoration are
common to entire Central Asiatic region, and were used by different
nations to approximately the same degree.
Decorations of bronze cast stirrups and steel ones ornamented using
forging and etching technique differ essentially.
The bulk of bronze cast stirrups bear zoomorphic effigies, that may be
conventionally determined as predatory animals' heads. It is possible to
interpret them as the heads of tigers, lions, panthers, or wolves.
Strictly speaking, one can differentiate the biological order of the
predators by their peculiarities. But those characterizing families
(canines or felines) are far less reliably traced. The images in question
cannot be determined as the representations of dragons' heads. Despite
similar rendering of jaws, eyes, brows, and manes, their heads are
composed of different set of details, they differ in proportions and
general layout, horns typical of Chinese dragons are not shown.
In the decoration of bronze cast stirrups at least five types of animal
heads' representations may be outlined (Figs. XI-XVII).
It is animal heads' effigies on bronze cast stirrups that clearly
demonstrate the elements coinciding with animal images as rendered in
ancient nomads' art. Similarities may be pointed to in all essential
features: jaws' contour, teeth shape, spiral-like volutes on jaws' front,
bulgy boss-shaped nose, bracket-shaped grooves in the corners of the
mouth, stepped and aquiline nose, eyes' contour, ears' shape, decorative
elements on the throat, decorative patterns on the neck.
But the similarity between the zoomorphic decoration on cast bronze
stirrups and effigies of Scythian-Siberian animal style is partial and
incomplete. Scythian-Siberian animal style had in its disposal far more
varied repertoire of artistic means and decorative arrangement. Moreover,
pieces of ancient nomads' art represent a wide range of entire effigies,
whilst stirrups, as a rule, are adorned only with pairs of animal heads.
The major part of steel stirrups with zoomorphic decoration bears images
of dragons' heads originating from Chinese canon. Variety of their
versions is shown in Figs. XVIII-XXXI. They differ in the degree of their
conventionality, and, finally, in the number of cavities forming the
So, the bulk of bronze stirrups is adorned with expressive realistic
representations of predatory animals' heads, but the major part of steel
ones with stereotyped dragons' heads. This sharp contrast may be
explained by essential differences in material and technique.
Bronze stirrups were cast after carved wooden models. Due to this fact
zoomorphic decoration of bronze items was closely related to stylistic
peculiarities of folk wooden sculpture, yielding multitude of impressive
works of animalistic art.
The decoration of steel stirrups was executed in free manual forging
technique. Blacksmith perforated the openings, smoothed the surface, bent
out the relief, notched the pattern applying cold chisel, piercers and
swages. The relatively small size of stirrup and strictly determined