Fat Horses

Large- mammal and Pleistocene maven Valerius Geist thinks more is going on with the spotted horse cave paintings below than just realism– be cites their exaggerated fatness as well:

“Horses in top condition thus have a large gut-fill, expanded further by storage fat about intestines and omentum. Consequently, the belly bulges downward. Simultaneously, the fat stored on the rump and haunches generates rounded rump and haunch contours. Because of the hanging belly, at a distance, fat animals appear short-legged. To signal the wish for a fat horse the artist sketches or paints horses with very large haunches, bulging bellies and very short legs. To this may be added atlatl darts or throwing spear arching towards or stuck in the horses vitals. The image is totally non-representational. No artist ever saw a horse like the one painted in Lascaux Cave, illustrating Rosner’s article. However, the artists skillful exaggerations generated meaningful symbolism: may spears kill for you a fat mare.”

This struck fire with me as Mongolian artists STILL portray even ridden horses as fat. Two examples from my own collection (one with dog a present from Andrew Campbell) below:


Of course the actual horses are chunky too: an “Appy” from Olgii:

Val wrote back:
“Wow! thank you so much for this note and images. Indeed the horses look “delectable”. I am still investigating, but it appears horse fat has a multiple of the omega-3 content of ruminant fats. That’s brain-building fat! Nice to see the spotted coats. As to leg-placement, it’s wrong- alas!”

3 thoughts on “Fat Horses”

  1. Hi I have a question, hope you can help! Do you have any information about that gorgeous top artwork? Like it's origin or artist and if it's in the Public Domain?

  2. Hi I have a question, hope you can help! Do you have any information about that gorgeous top artwork? Like it's origin or artist and if it's in the Public Domain?

  3. Tara: the top two are Mongolian traditional folk paintings, often semi – comic and sold to tourists. While they may or may not be signed, finding the often rural or anonymous artists is virtually impossible. The only unusual element is the tazi (saluki type dog); everything else is something you might buy in any big Mongolian market.

    I doubt the photo is anything you need but it is mine and you are welcome to it. Perhaps you or another artist could adopt the style of image one, using it as a template?

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