Hunting with Cheetahs: 2
What fun I’ve been having at the Met! Amidst all the glamorous masterpieces, I was very pleased to see a tiny moulded horseman – with a hunting cheetah on his horse’s bottom.
Old hands on my old blog will surely remember a clip I included in Hunting with Cheetahs (1) from a 1939 film ‘Life with an Indian Prince’ that actually shows hunting going on – albeit using bullock carts rather than horses to transport the (super-fast, but not much stamina) cheetah.
I’ve been fascinated by Asiatic cheetah after I (eventually) managed to get a permit for the Kavir national park – one of the few places where these beautiful animals live in the wild. No-one – not even the rangers – expect to see a living animal, but the men working there told me that they’d just this year seen the pawprints of babies. I was excited. They were even more excited!
The Safavids loved to hunt – and appreciated the qualities of the cheetah. Please click to see some cheetah on a gorgeous silk and metal thread roundel, probably used for the centre of a tent, but now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts collection. Look at the 4th and 5th of the images especially for very lovely (and more realistic size) Safavid cheetahs, in very cute coats, on the back of their huntsman’s horse. Then, in the V&A, there’s a lampas silk featuring a cheetah savaging a wild ass – as used on a cope worn by a Christian priest (what were those Christians up to?). The B&W image probably gives the best view of the spotty cheetah.