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Asian Art

Horse

5th century

Earthenware with traces of pigment

6 1/8 × 6 3/8 in. (15.5 × 16.2 cm)
University Purchase
1939.483
During the Tang Dynasty the Chinese obtained fine, handsome horses from western Asia, horses that were identified with dragon-horses of legend. Already by the early seventh century large horses had become the preferred mounts of the elite and horsemanship came to be thought of as an aristocratic privilege. This necessitated a government edict in 667 prohibiting artisans and tradesmen from riding horseback. In death, however, it seems that anyone could have a horse, and ceramic representations of western Asian horses made expressly for the tomb reached unprecedented degrees of naturalism. Even as modest an example as this one shows an interest in modeling and naturalistic detail.
Geography: 
China
Culture: 
Chinese
Period: 
Northern Wei dynasty (386 - 534)
Classification: 
Sculpture
Provenance: 

Purchased by the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.,1939.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.