Early Tang Painted Pottery Horse with Detachable Saddle

SKU DL.2088

Very Fine


618 AD to 906 AD


12″ (30.5cm) high x 12″ (30.5cm) wide




Shaanxi Province

Gallery Location



The great influence of the horse throughout the history of China cannot be underestimated. In fact, the ancient unification of the Chinese Empire was due in large part to the horse. Their rapid mobility allowed for quick communication between far away provinces. Likewise, the military role of horses aided in the conquest and submission of distant lands. The need to import stronger, faster steeds from Central Asia (as opposed to the native Mongol pony) led to the creation of the Silk Road. The importance of the horse in the history and culture of China can be viewed, in part, through the artistic legacy of this great civilization. In sculpture, painting, and literature, horses were glorified and revered, believed to be relatives of dragons, a theory reflecting their sacred status within society. During the Tang Dynasty, the adoration of the horse can be seen through their burial art. Horse models excavated from mausoleums of the period are among the most splendid and easily recognizable works of Chinese art.

This work is remarkable for the amount of the original pigment that has survived the ravages of time, specifically apparent on the orange saddle and black reins. Equally impressive is the fact that the saddle has been separately crafted; it may once have supported a rider who is now lost to us. This gorgeous sculpture is a testament to the admiration and adoration the Chinese had for these marvelous creatures. Although they were an integral part in the expansion and defense of the empire, they were equally regarded for their beauty and grace as revealed by this sculpture.

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