Monumental Han Dynasty Terracotta Horse – TL Tested – China, ‘206 BC–220 AD’


Figure; Horse Depiction, Pottery, Han Dynasty. 


A massive pottery horse with separately made head and tail, standing on all fours and striding with its right hoof forward. Extended snout ends in parted lips showing teeth beneath in a braying attitude. Low relief bridle on face and well defined eyes. Raised mane down back of the neck. Reassembled from mostly large fragments with restoration over the break-lines and some new fill. A fantastic example of the Han Dynasty Horse, during this period the prized horse came from the Ferghama Valley in Central Asia, now Afghanistan.
Large, exquisite walking Ferghana horses with great attention paid to anatomical detail were the choice of the wealthy. The horse was second only in importance to the dragon. It was supposed to possess magical powers which the early Chinese were eager to explore. It would be the horse that would carry the deceased to the next life and it would be the amount of horses that an individual owned that would guarantee his ongoing status in the hereafter.
Impressive Museum Masterpiece. Private NYC Collection.
Thermoluminescence certificate from Oxford Labs included.
The Han dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China (206 BC–220 AD), preceded by the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC). Spanning over four centuries, the Han period is considered a Golden Age in Chinese history. To this day, China’s majority ethnic group refers to themselves as the “Han people”. The emperor was at the pinnacle of Han society. He presided over the Han government but shared power with both the nobility and appointed ministers who came largely from the scholarly gentry class. Around the turn of the millennium, Han tomb architectural styles morphed from pits into multi-chambered underground dwellings, often with elaborate carvings and wall paintings. Many shrines in turn were covered with low-relief carvings depicting paradises and stories underscoring Confucian virtues like filial piety and loyalty. The shrines and spirit paths became an important way for the living to proclaim the deceased family member’s and their own commitment to Confucian values.
Ultimately, funerary objects such as mingqi worked in concert with other funerary objects, tomb architecture, shrines, and spirit-road sculptures to achieve a goal that exceeded the well-being of the family. According to Confucian doctrine, when every person performed their prescribed social role to perfection, the cosmos would achieve harmony. By ensuring the well-being of the dead, the living promoted accord in the celestial realm and in their own terrestrial existence.

Additional information

Dimensions 37 × 43 in