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Nov 08, 2016

The History of Saddle Rings

Although archery is often depicted as a Native American activity in pop media, they also have origins in Chinese lore, particularly during ancient times in hunting, warfare and sporting activities. Archery in China dates back to at least 4000 years ago during the Yuan dynasty. Because jewelry is often a representation of styles and values over the years, vintage Chinese jewelry also pays homage to the skill, most notably with Chinese Archer and Saddle rings.

Archer rings were typically found etched with jade or ivory, materials that are durable and hard because rings were seen as status symbols and reflected the warrior mentality of the time. Over the years the ornament evolved to be more decorative and less practical so materials used expanded to nephrite and other hardstones to accentuate colors and designs. Sometimes these thumb rings are left plain and without designs to highlight materials used and other times the archer’s rings are formed with decorative gold and precious stones, or with carvings and overlays.

Saddle rings, by their definition, have practical uses. They were made to attach to weaponry so a soldier would never be separated from his weapon. By the early 1900s, then, the traditional archer ring no longer held a practical purpose and mostly became vintage jewelry for collectors. Materials and styles expanded even further because things like snuff bottles and glass are so inexpensive. It was easy to pay tribute to the old traditional while still filling out new designs and artistic motifs.

Still, even as a form of vintage jewelry, saddle rings can be displayed eloquently on one’s body or in a case. Rings can be carved with poetry, flower embalms and different scenes all on hardstones of different colors – white jade, light and dark green jade. The variety maintains the visual and significance of traditional China, showing off calligraphy skills and ideas of tranquility and honor while still holding a piece of history in the wearer’s hand, literally.

Some older thumb rings do not possess a comfort for the modern day woman, but are still displayed in an attractive manner as conversation piece pendants, normally worn around the neck on chains or attached to bracelets due to its small size and shape.

So discover a unique and historic part of jewelry and celebrate Chinese culture with an archer and saddle ring as part of your vintage jewelry collection.

Resources
(photo credit) https://www.etsy.com/listing/485117383/rose-quartz-saddle-ring-vintage-hololith?ref=market
https://asianart.com/articles/rings/index.html

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