Finland, 19th century.
A small bundle of aged horsehair. About 200mm x 4mm in size.
The horse has symbolized freedom, courage and endurance throughout the ages. Over the millennia, it has been a mystical symbol of strength, companionship, diligence, sexuality and work. Horses have been depicted in art perhaps the most after humans. Horses have been considered to have supernatural qualities that are precisely related to speed, strength, intelligence and fertility. The ancient Celts, Gauls, Aryans, and Teutons and other Germanic tribes are known to have worshiped horses or horse-like gods. Horses were also sacrificed during various religious ceremonies. For example, during the Scandinavian Iron Age, horses were used to be sacrificed, especially in swamps and wetlands. These uninhabitable areas were considered to be pathways to the afterlife. For the Native Americans, the horse has always been a sacred creature that represents freedom. For example, the Dakotas and Lakotas believe that the horse (sun'ka wakan) has come to people as a gift from "thunder" (Wakinyan).
Just like the horses themselves, their long reins have been seen as a very strong symbol, the meaning of which has varied in different cultures and religions. For the indigenous peoples of the United States, horse reins have been a connection to nature and the spirits of ancestors. Jouhi was used, among other things, for decorations, ceramics and dream catchers. The ancient Celts wove cloth from horse wool and carried horse wool in small bundles with them as a protective amulet. For them, ropes symbolize freedom and endurance. In ancient Greece, horse reins were used as decorations on warriors' helmets. Horse reins were associated with heroism and courage.