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, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.