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HOME : Chinese Art : Han Horses : Han Polychrome Sculpture of a Horse
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Han Polychrome Sculpture of a Horse - H.632
Origin: China
Circa: 206 BC to 220 AD
Dimensions: 17" (43.2cm) high
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Painted Terracotta

Location: United States
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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. According to lore, there existed a horse so powerful and beautiful that it was bequeathed from heaven. This gorgeous horse almost appears to have been sculpted in a divine workshop. 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 dark red pigment with designs representing saddle and bridle painted on. White and light red 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. 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 next world. This custom answered to the needs of a particular belief system regarding life after death and the spiritual world. - (H.632)


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