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HOME : Chinese Art : Tang Horses : Tang Sculpture of a Horse
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Tang Sculpture of a Horse - H.699
Origin: China
Circa: 618 AD to 906 AD
Dimensions: 29" (73.7cm) high
Collection: Chinese
Style: Tang Dynasty
Medium: Painted Terracotta


Location: Great Britain
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Description
The important influence of the horse throughout the history of China cannot be underestimated. In fact, the ancient expansion of the Chinese Empire was due in large part to the horse. The rapid mobility of horses allowed for enhanced communication between far away provinces. Likewise, the military role of horses facilitated the conquest and submission of distant lands as well as securing the borders against barbarian invaders. The need to import stronger, faster steeds from Central Asia (as opposed to the local Mongol pony) eventually resulted in the creation of the Silk Road. The significance of the horse in the history and culture of China can be viewed, in part, through the artistic legacy of this great civilization. In sculpture, painting, and literature, horses were frequently glorified and revered as distant relatives of sacred, mythological dragons. During the Tang Dynasty, the adoration of the horse is evident in their burial art. Horse models excavated from mausoleums of the period are among the most splendid and celebrated works of Chinese art. This large, striking sculpture of a white horse is no exception. The horse tilts its head to the side, as if turning to investigate some distant rustling. Its mouth is held almost completely open, a remarkable rare feature when combined with the tilt of the head. On the other few examples where horses have their mouths fully open, their heads are almost always held upwards as if rearing. We can imagine this fine steed galloping across the horizon, en route to some distant province to deliver an official message. Or perhaps a horse as beautiful as this one was the prized possession of a noble aristocrat who partook in polo matches. The delicate molding of this sculpture captures that power and grace of this majestic creature. The long saddle blanket that draped down over the horse’s stomach is also a feature highly desired by collectors, as is the decorative boss, somewhat floral in design, present on the horse’s rump slightly above the tail. This horse is remarkable not just for its large size and graceful beauty, but also for its unprecedented combination of rare features. Surely this horse, crafted with loving care and attention to detail, was admired as much in life as it is in its sculptural form. - (H.699) - (H.699)

 

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