This beautifully rendered Han pottery seated horse represents one of the prized possessions of an elite member of Han society. Elaborate purple scrollwork ripples over the horse’s white body while faint remnants of a once boldly depicted brown and orange saddle reveal that the work still retains much of its original polychromy. The mouth of this elegant creature is left slightly ajar as if to symbolize movement, expression, and life.
Valued for their speed, strength and beauty horses were one of the most admired animals in China. According to Chinese tradition, there existed a horse so powerful and beautiful that it was believed to have come from heaven. In early China, owning a horse required wealth and status and eventually became a sign of one's social standing. Equestrian activities encouraged the indulgence of the select few who privilege enough to own horses. The horse thus became a favorite subject of artists who tried to recreate visual representations of this powerful animal. During the Han Dynasty, the horse was rendered in miniature sculptural form and buried with the deceased in order to aid them during the perilous journey to the afterlife.
The elegance and refinement of this Han pottery seated horse transports us back in time to appreciate the beauty and strength of this powerful creature. Such a work is a precious addition to any collection of Chinese Art.