Dr Watson's review of Dr von Dewall's Pferd und Wagen im Frühen China in your June issue raised a very interesting question, a hitherto unexplored aspect of which is indicated, if never developed, in the book.
Dr Watson writes that the author ‘Rather surprisingly, sees no problem in the perennial question of the plac—hest or neck—on which the yoked horses took the load, and assumes that the system of traces kept the point of draught low and protected the horses from the choking effects of a band around the neck.’ Dr von Dewall referred to a girth (Bauchgurt) rather than to traces (which did not then exist) as performing this function, but was over-optimistic in believing it could be successful. But she does assign a role, although a not entirely correct one, to the yoke saddle: ‘Die Jochgabel auf dem Nacken der Pferde, an der ein Brustblatt angesetzt haben muss, das von Brust und Schulter die Zugkraft abnahm, war damit ein wichtiges Verbindungsglied in diesem Zugsystem’ . The saddle is an element of the harness long neglected in the literature and, although it could never completely have removed the pressure from the throat (‘breast’ is a euphemism), I hope to demonstrate that it would permit the withers and particularly the upper shoulder to absorb some of this-at least when the horse was in certain positions.
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