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. Recognising the speed and endurance of Western horses, these were brought in to breed with the Mongolian, smaller variety native to China and were widely used in warfare, hunting and in the aristocratic pastime of polo. Similar to their Tang Dynasty counterparts, Northern Wei ceramic horse figurines were placed in tombs with their owners, serving a ceremonial purpose.
Elaborate Terracotta Northern Wei Horse
An elegant hollow-moulded terracotta horse statuette, dating to the Chinese Northern Wei Dynasty. The horse is shown standing on a flat rectangular base, with all four hooves planted to the ground. He appears in the caporisoned style, richly decorated with a bell-adorned collar, large saddle and feathered headress. The majority of the original white slip remains, with additional red and black pigments used to pick out details of the features, such as the trappings, the alert pupils, the blanket and the mane.
Period: Northern Wei Dynasty
Condition: Excellent condition. This piece has been thermoluminescence tested.