Han Dynasty Terracotta Painted Horse Head


A finely moulded, hollow statuette of a naturalistically rendered horse head dating to the Han Dynasty. The animal is depicted with an elegant profile, accentuating the strong masculine physique and the natural curve of its neck. It features prominent facial features, including engraved eyes, nostrils and a gaping mouth. The piece is enriched by evenly painted coat of attractive rouge-reddish pigment.

Date: Circa 202 BC - AD 220
Provenance: From a private English collection formed in the 1990s.
Condition: Very fine condition, the original rouge-reddish pigment remain largely visible to the surface, sign of earthy encrustation scattered onto the painted surface. Signs of wear on the nostrils.


SKU: HL-452 Category: Tags: , , ,

In Ancient China, terracotta statuettes of animals and human figures, known as mingqi, would have been placed in the deceased’s tomb to ensure companionship and service in the afterlife. Horses are one of the most powerful symbols in Chinese folklore, being linked to the pure male strength, known as Yang. Horses were also symbol of speed, perseverance, imagination and youthful energy, and they appear to be the most represented subject in the art of imperial China. During the Han Dynasty especially, horses were treated with great esteem, being considered as the foundation of Chinese military power and an important resource for the Chinese state. One of the main reasons behind the promotion of the opening of a commercial route, which will be later knows as Silk Road, was the desire of Han emperors to acquire bigger and sturdier horses.

To discover more about Chinese terracotta statuettes and horses in Chinese culture, please visit our relevant blog posts: Terracotta Tomb Attendants and The Horse in Chinese Art and Culture.

Weight 632.6 g
Dimensions L 13.6 x W 4.3 x H 15.8 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

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