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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.018
Origin: China
Circa: 206 BC to 220 AD
Dimensions: 20" (50.8cm) high x 7" (17.8cm) wide
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Painted Terracotta

Location: Great Britain
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This pottery figurine is painted in blue pigment with red, criss-crossing fittings outlined in white painted onto the body of the horse rather than molded. The head of the horse is adjoined to a separate "body" piece at the neck; the separate leg attachments are missing. The horse's strenuous expression is vividly portrayed in the fine sculpturing of bulging veins and eyes, muscular jaws, wide-open flared nostrils, and gaping mouth bearing clenched teeth. Though rigid in form, the sculpture successfully conveys the horse's solid stance and admirable attributes of resoluteness and power. 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 otherworld. This custom answered to the needs of a particular belief system regarding life after death and the spiritual world. - (H.018)


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