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HOME : Chinese Art : Tang Horse and Riders : Horse with Removable Saddle and Guardian
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Horse with Removable Saddle and Guardian - RL.1181
Origin: China
Circa: 618 CE to 906 CE
Dimensions: 18" (45.7cm) high
Collection: Chinese Art
Style: Tang
Medium: terracotta


Additional Information: Hong Kong

Location: UAE
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Description
During the T’ang Dynasty, horses were revered, 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.

This sculpture, depicting a horse with its head held upwards, neighing cheerfully. A guardian with his garment open to show his upper body is considered as a foreigner from the west. His hair style and clothing reveal his culture. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this work is the removable saddle that detach from the body of the horse in one piece. Some of the original polychrome still remains intact, clearly visible on the guardian, his clothes, his hair, skin and red lips, and the brownish numnah, or saddle blanket. We can imagine this guardian is so proud of the horse he has been taking care of, perhaps it is one of his best horse. He wears a long-sleeved rope, we can see the inner layer of the rope is animal skin like frabic. 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. - (RL.1181)

 

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