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HOME : Chinese Art : Archive : T'ang Polychrome Horse and Rider
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T'ang Polychrome Horse and Rider - H.946
Origin: China
Circa: 618 AD to 906 AD
Dimensions: 11.75" (29.8cm) high
Collection: Chinese
Style: T'ang Dynasty
Medium: Painted Terracotta

Additional Information: SOLD
Location: United States
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During the T’ang Dynasty, horses were revered creature, considered relatives of the mythical dragon. This veneration was well earned, for the speed and stamina of these majestic animals ensured the protection of the northern borders against barbarian invaders as well as enhancing communication capabilities between far away provinces, thereby aiding in the expansion of the empire. The need to import horses from Central Asia influenced the creation of the Silk Road. Thus, they were also prized for their rarity. Naturally then, horses became a status symbol for the aristocratic elite. Polo and other equestrian pastimes became popular. This sculpture, depicting an old man, complete with wrinkled features, riding on the back of a horse, reveals this connection between nobility and the horse. He wears a robe that still retains most of its original orange pigment that once decorated the work. We can imagine this distinguished old man, perhaps a philosopher or poet, prancing around on this horse, taking part in an important ceremony. Discovered buried inside a tomb, this work was supposed to accompany the deceased throughout the afterlife. The striking beauty of this work is even more impressive, considering that it was created specifically for interment and was not supposed to be seen by the living. Today, we marvel in the beauty of this sculpture as much as its tremendous history and intriguing legacy. - (H.946)


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