Tang Dynasty horses and other animal sculptures from this period have been symbols of wealth and prestige for decades. But where did their beauty originate? The Chinese ceramicists during the Tang Dynasty perfected a tri-color glazing technique, Sancai, which would be revered around the world for centuries to come. These two examples would have been no less beautiful when they were first created than they are now. Horse sculptures were created to usher the elite and powerful of Ancient China in the underworld. These and the other ceramic figures would fill the graves of the rich and powerful. Much like the ancient Egyptians filled their tombs with figures that would be useful in the afterlife, so too did the Chinese during this dynasty with these tri-colored animal figures and much more.
The works of art produced during Tang Dynasty were so influential and popular that later Chinese dynasties often attempted to replicate the objects and designs. This can be seen in the three-part sculpture at the bottom of the case (2.2.12abc), which can be dated to the Qing Dynasty in China, occurring one thousand years after the Tang Dynasty. In this example, Chinese artisans imitated the earlier Tang Dynasty ceramics by reusing the sancai tri-color glaze technique that was so distinct centuries earlier.
Most of the objects in this section of the exhibition are from the Tang Dynasty unless otherwise noted. There are burial goods and objects that are for the preparation and consumption of food. The pair of Tang Horses along with this section’s signature object would have been extravagant burial treasures.
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