Wooden equestrian figure, Kutch, Gujarat.

Horses and horse riders of clay, are found in South India, near the sacred groves. (votive offerings). For the Bhil, a pre-aryan people, the horseman ( or Spirit Rider) was playing the leading role in the Nukto rite of the dead. In Gujarat  and Rajasthan the ‘palia stones, erected by the Rajputs, show the horserider  as a warior, who died in the battle and was worshipped as an ancestor.

These wooden horses are in the people’s houses and according to legends they represent Pir Dulesha, a salesman who died while protecting a young couple against bandits. They are given as a wedding gift to bridal couples. The figure between the horse legs is the helper of Pir Duesha.

Most likely they play a role in the ancestor worship.  19th century. Collected by Tom van Groeningen in Kutch, Gujarat, India.