Chinese Han Dynasty Horse’s Head Mingqi

£ 395.00

An Ancient Chinese moulded terracotta figurine depicting a horse’s head dating to the Han Period. The head would have been originally part of a complete horse, modelled in sections. The horse is presented in an extremely naturalistic stance, with its mouth slightly agape, and details of facial muscles finely rendered. Drilled perforations to the eyes, mouth and nostrils, suggest the presence of a harness, now sadly missing. The piece displays traces of the original white pigment, which would have been applied to the surface after firing.

Date: Circa 206 BC-220 AD
Period: Han Dynasty
Condition: Fine, with traces of the original pigment visible.


SKU: FP-249 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, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.

Weight 485 g
Dimensions H 14.5 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum, item 26.292.45

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