This pottery figurine is sculpted to show the strong, bold
line and muscularity of the horse. Once
part of an assembled set, this horse bears the characteristics associated with
the famed Heavenly Horse of Fergana. Its
long muscular neck, arched mane, stylistically curved snout, flared nostrils and
gaping mouth depict a horse of regal origin.
The figurine is painted in red pigment with designs representing saddle
and bridle painted on. White and pink swirled sashes and ribbons are drawn onto the
body, complimenting the animal's own natural beauty and grace.
Valued for its speed, strength and beauty, the horse
has been one of the most admired animals in China. The horse has enabled man to
swiftly transport massive armies into distant and neighboring territories in
order to secure vast wealth and land. According to lore, there existed a horse
so powerful and beautiful that it was believed to be bequeathed from heaven. In
early China, owning a horse required wealth and status, eventually becoming as a
sign of one's social standing. Equestrian
activities only encourage the indulgence of the wealthy few who owned horses.
Naturally in Chinese art, the horse became a favorite subject of artists
who try to create visual representations of the animal that capture both its
vitality and presence. During the
Han Dynasty, the horse was rendered in miniature sculptural form to be interred
with the dead. It was believed that
the animal could assume its powers and assist the deceased in the dangerous
journey to the other world. This custom answered to the needs of a particular
belief system regarding life after death and the spiritual world.