Tang Dynasty Pottery Horse
Tang Dynasty Pottery Horse. Outstanding and monumental pottery “mingqi” representing a painted grey pottery model of a prancing horse.
Grey earthenware coated with white slip and remains of brown, black and red pigment.
Important Painted Pottery Figure of a Prancing Horse
Tang Dynasty (618-907)
Excellent condition, much of the original pigment remaining.
Height 41cm. Wide ca. 46 cm.
Excavated from the tomb in Qianxian, Shaanxi province.
Our Guarantee: The above item is guaranteed to be of the time period and condition as described, has been exported legally and is legal to buy and sell under all international lows to cultural patrimony.
The spirited figure shown standing on a rectangular base with left leg raised and head upwards the arched neck, the long mane swept to one side and the divided forelock curved under the pricked ears, the tail docked and the saddle covered with a long, draped saddle cloth, with traces of brown, red and black pigment.
Auction result comparison: For a closely related prancing horse, sharing the near identical facial features see, Christie’s New York, March 2006, lot 382.
– A Certificate of Authenticity from Becker Antiques (specialist in Chinese pottery since 1969, Amsterdam) will accompany the item.
– The result of the thermoluminescence test, is consistent with the dating of the item, Tang dynasty. Sampling in 3 different points
*Tang dynasty tomb figures are pottery figures of people and animals made in the Tang dynasty of China (618–906) as grave goods to be placed in tombs. There was a belief that the figures represented would become available for the service of the deceased in the afterlife. The figures are made of moulded earthenware with colour generally being added, though often not over the whole figure, or in naturalistic places. Where the colouring was in paint it has often not survived, but in many cases, it was in sancai (“three-colour”) ceramic glaze, which has generally lasted well.
The figures, called mingqui in Chinese, were most often of servants, soldiers (in male tombs) and attendants such as dancers and musicians, with many no doubt representing courtesans. In burials of people of high rank there may be soldiers and officials as well. The animals are most often horses, but there are surprising numbers of both Bactrian camels and their Central Asian drivers, distinguished by thick beards and hair, and their facial features. The depictions are realistic to a degree unprecedented in Chinese art, and the figures give archaeologists much useful information about life under the Tang. There are also figures of the imaginary monster “earth spirits” and the fearsome human Lokapala (or tian wang), both usually in pairs and acting as tomb guardians to repel attacks by both spirits and humans. Sets of the twelve imaginary beasts of the Chinese Zodiac are also found, usually unglazed.
The figures represent a development of earlier traditions of Chinese tomb figures, and in the Tang elaborate glazed figures are restricted to north China, very largely to the areas around the capitals. They “virtually disappear” from 755 when the highly disruptive An Lushan Rebellion began, which probably affected the kilns in Henan and Hebei making the pieces as well as their elite clientele. A much diminished tradition continued in later dynasties until the Ming. The use of sancai glazing on figures was restricted to the upper classes, and production was controlled by the imperial bureaucracy, but a single burial of a member of the imperial family might contain many hundreds of figures.