Hunting with Cheetahs: 2

Moulded Seljuk horseman – with his hunting cheetah on his horse’s bottom

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.

Asiatic cheetahs caught in a camera trap. Image from Spiegel Online

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.




One Response to “Hunting with Cheetahs: 2”

  1. admin Says:

    I’ve been in the USA – attending the Autumn Symposium at the Washington Textile Museum (about their new Ottoman exhibition ( ); and then visiting the new (take a deep breath) Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia galleries ( at the Met in New York.

    Of course, I’ve got lots to say about all of this. A huge part (to be polite: it was overwhelming) of the Met displays are from greater Iran). I’m going to do more than one blog entry to share at least some of the treats I’ve seen.

    This week, though, a few words on a tiny piece in the Met collection that it would be o so easy to miss: a moulded Seljuk horseman, with a cheetah sitting on the horse’s rump (

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