History of Collar Harnessing in Source Pictures

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Collars of Modern Times

Modern, 1900 CMo#1: Advertisment of a German agro machine manufactor around 1900. He offers ploughs, harrows and other devices. The two-layer collar looks heavy. The weight of collars is sometimes mentioned as a disadvantage in contrast to modern strap harnesses. But by some users the heavy collar was perhaps attributed to achieve more efficient work.
Besides the collar, this poster offers a unique look in the mind of a 1900 peasant. The new plough in front needs only two horses and only one man still able to smoke a pipe. Wheras the older plough in the background needs 4 horses, two men and hard work. Thus, far from reality, the ad suggests a 100% efficiency increase by the new gadget. At the left a modern horse drawn seed machine is compared to seeding by hand and covering by oxen or cows on the right. The low public reputation of oxen versus horse work is exploited this way, too.

Modern, 1930s CMo#2: Horses wearing collar harnesses in front of a rural wagon in the 1930s, western Germany. Redrawing from a photograph. It is out of a "How To" book by a senior expert carrier, teaching by images of good and bad examples he faced all over Germany. This harness is explained as simple but sufficient if the wagon break is used. He only criticized the pole as too low.
Scheiber, Oskar: Pferd und Fuhrmann in Landwirtschaft und Gewerbe, Hannover 1940

Modern, 1930s CMo#3: Cow with a "half padded collar", in 1930s Germany (Obersachsen). This special type of cow collar is designed to put all load on the upper shoulders but to clear the whithers of any load. This is directly the opposite principle to the usual bovine yoke which puts all load on the whithers. The advantage of this collar is the lower pressure on the skin than by yoke. Noteable is the high traction point of the collar and the use of the upper shoulder only. This high traction point is the usual way in bovine collars. It is related to the less intense muscular structure around the shoulders of bovines compared to horses.
Steinmetz, Heinrich: Kuhanspannung in Deutschland, Berlin 1936

Modern, 1958 CMo#4: Chinese mule with collar in 1958. This is one of several Chinese collar pictures Joseph Needham published in his book on the history of Science in China. It is interesting to note the similartities to CMo#5 and CMo#6.
Needham, Joseph: Science and Civilisation in China, Vol 4, Part II, London 1965

Modern, 1960 CMo#5: Portugese mule with collar in 1960. Needham notes the similarity to the Chinese one in CMo#4. He assumes this to be a leftover of an early contact before the modern type collar was used in Europe. But it could also be a similar solution to the common problem how to harness a draught animal. Note that this, like all other simple designs, is bare of any iron use - the most important difference between Roman and post Roman collar design.
Much research in the "origin of collar question" can be attributed to Needham. Like several English speaking scientists of his time (1950-60s) he mostly accepted the notion of L. des Noettes that the collar was a medieval invention. But he rejcts this idea for China where he was a senior expert. He noted the collar in ancient Chinese picture and concluded a diffusion from China to the West in early medieval times. For Roman times he unfortunately relied on sources like Forbes who already accepted LdN and were unaware or unwilling to accept the amount of Roman collar sources. So Needham never saw the collars on Trajan and Aurelian columns but only got the pictures in CNT#1 and CST#11. By this limited sources he could not help concluding that the Romans had no collar. He only saw indications for some "experimentation".

Modern, 1970s CMo#6: Horse threshing lenses in 1970s rural Egypt. The collar used is of most simple design. It is an inverted V shaped wood piece over an improvised padding by leather or old clothes. It certainly works but needs some adjustmemt for every use. The photograph was published in a German economic aid investigation on the use and impact of draught animals in Africa. This and other publications mention the higher cost of usual collar design over other types of harness.
Munzinger, Peter (Ed.): "Handbuch der Zugtiernutzung in Afrika" [Hrsg. Dt. Ges. fur Techn. Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH], Eschborn 1981.

Modern, 1980s CMo#7: A photo taken by Georges Raepsaet in Belgium around 1980 for his 1982 paper on Roman harnessing in the Seine/Rhein region. A typical modern collar. Under a rigid hard layer, an intense padded leather structure fits over the shoulders. The reins are fed through the collar like in Roman times. The attachment of the traction line is like the 1930s German collar.

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