26 August 2016

Chinese horse tack


Ming Cavalry Loadout
Basic horse tack, from 'San Cai Tu Hui (《三才圖會》)'.


  • Dang Lu (當盧): (Decorative) Forehead plate.
  • Pei Tou (轡頭): Bridle.
  • Ji (羈): Halter. Also known as Long Tou (籠頭).
  • Jie Yue (節約): Headstall strap junction.
  • Xian (銜): Bit.
  • Biao (鑣): Bit shank.
  • Jiang (韁): Rein.


  • Xiong Pan (胸攀): Breast collar.


  • An (鞍): Saddle.
  • An Fu (鞍袱): Saddle cover. Also known as An Pa (鞍帕).
  • Jian (韉): Saddle blanket.
  • Zhang Ni (障泥): Mud guard/saddle flap. A pair of large leather panels hung from either side of the saddle to protect the horse from rubbing of stirrups, mud splashes, tree branches and shrubs.
  • Ta Deng (踏鐙): Stirrups. Also known simply as Deng (鐙).
  • Du Dai (肚帶): Girth.


  • Qiu (鞦): Saddle breeching. Also known as Qiu Dai (鞧帶).
  • Huo Zhu (火珠, lit. 'Fire bead'): (Decorative) Hemispherical strap union/strap junction used to join together various straps of saddle breeching.
  • Ji Sheng (寄生, lit. 'Parasite'): (Decorative) Large, elaborate plume or decorative wing attached to the croupiere (horse armour for hindquarters). Very common during Northern and Southern dynasties period, but quickly fell out of popularity during Sui-Tang period, and completely disappeared afterwards.


  • Ma Zhang (馬掌, lit. 'Horse palm'): Horseshoe. Less commonly known as Jiao Se (腳澀), horseshoe spread to China during Sui Dynasty (581-618 CE) at the latest, and came into widespread use during Yuan Dynasty. By Ming period, most horsemen from North China (particularly Northeast China) would have equipped their horses with horseshoes, while inland Chinese horsemen continued to get by without them.

Rider equipment

  • Bian (鞭): Whip.

Harness attachment

  • Ling (鈴): Horse bell. Horse bells were used to maintain caravan cohesion during long travel, and served as a useful tool to locate horses that go astray.
  • Xing Ye (杏葉, lit. 'Apricot leaf'): (Decorative) Horse brass.
  • Ying (纓): (Decorative) Tassel.


  • Niao Chi Huan (鳥翅環, lit. 'Bird wing loop') and De Sheng Gou (得勝鉤, lit 'Victory hook'): A set of metal loop and hook frequently mentioned in classical novels that is presumably mounted on the saddle to serve as weapon suspension, allowing the rider to rest his sword or lance and free up his hands for other tasks. To date, these items have not yet been found or identified.


  1. In Qi Jiguang's “练兵实纪”, the author metioned in book 1 the equipment of horses: "马:每匹鞍仗一副,辔头一副,肚带二条,滚肚一条,木绊一副,绊马绳二条,马椿一件,草铡每队一口“。
    I cannot find any info on 肚带, 滚肚, 木绊 and 马椿. I supposed that 绊马绳 is the 韁. Do you know what these could be? I'm scrolling through Wu Bei Zhi, and I haven't find any thing.

    1. @baho
      I tried look them up, but no luck either.

      I am only guessing, but it is possible that 肚带 and/or 滚肚 refer to the girth.

      马椿 is most likely a typo of 马樁, referring to “马橛” or the pole that you tie the lead.

      I guess 木绊 is the bit.


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