Large Han Dynasty Polychrome Terracotta Horse


A Han Dynasty hollow-moulded terracotta statue depicting a horse in a standing pose. The animal is modelled in an extremely naturalistic manner, with much attention given towards the rendering of the anatomical and facial features. The piece displays an elegantly curved profile, which emphasises the animal’s strong physique and well-defined anatomical features, whilst the tail is finely dressed in a knot, adding a sense of refinement. The animal’s head is shown facing forward, modelled with prominent brows, slightly open mouth, and ears alertly pricked. The majority of the original white slip remains on the surface, with additional red pigment used to pick out details of the horse’s harness.

This piece is accompanied by a positive Kotalla Laboratory thermoluminescence report and has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art: AIAD certificate number no.110835-178530.

N.B. This item will require additional postage charges after checkout due to weight and size.

Date: 206 BC - 220 AD
Period: Han Dynasty
Provenance: From a West Country, UK, collection; formerly with a Bath, UK, gallery, 1990s.
Condition: Fine condition. The right ear has been repaired; earthy encrustations and signs of ageing on the surface.


SKU: MG-213 Category: Tags: , , ,

Brought to China by means of the international Silk Road trade network, the relationship between China and horses dates back to Neolithic times and the first domestication of the animal is believed to have started in the 13th century BC. Horses were widely used in warfare, hunting and in the aristocratic pastime of polo. They were complimented as a symbol of strength, masculinity, and superiority within traditional Chinese culture, making them one of the most favoured repertoires in Chinese art. Terracotta statuettes, such as this fine example, are known as Mingqi (冥器) and were meant to be grave goods to be placed in tombs, as it was believed that these figures would serve and assist the deceased in the afterlife.

To discover more about horses in Chinese culture, read our relevant blog post: The Horse in Chinese Art and Culture.

Dimensions L 57 x W 17.1 x H 58 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

Reference: For a similar item, please see The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, item M.2002.146.1

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