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HOME : Chinese Art : Han Horses : Han Polychrome Torso of a Horse
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Han Polychrome Torso of a Horse - H.501
Origin: China
Circa: 206 BC to 220 AD
Dimensions: 13.5" (34.3cm) high
Catalogue: V17
Collection: Chinese
Style: Han Dynasty
Medium: Terracotta


Location: Great Britain
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Description
This powerfully modeled torso of a horse is painted with a full harness in red and white pigment.  The saddle is outlined in blue paint and decorated with red circular designs.  Staring eyes, bared teeth and flared nostrils, the horse's expression is full of ferocity. With its ears pulled back, ridge of the nose sharply angled, and chest thrusting forward, we can imagine this horse magnificently galloping into battle, determined as is his rider, to triumph and conquer.

The legendary "heavenly horses" of the West intrigued the Han emperor who set out on a mission to obtain these gallant horses that, according to legend, sweat blood.  The horse became a symbol of military prowess, strength, and vitality.  It was at the foundation upon which rests the army.  Along the roads to the imperial tombs of the Han dynasty, recreations of horse in ceramic were placed to fortify the entrance as were recreations of chariots, riders and thousands of foot soldiers.  This thirst for immortality is what brought about this elaborate burial custom for it was believed that the deceased needed to be protected in their journey to paradise.
- (H.501)

 

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