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Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) China
Saddled horse [Standing horse] 25-220 Place made: Sichuan province, China
Materials & Technique: sculptures, earthenware, earthenware; slip decoration
Dimensions: side view 85.5 h x 34.5 w x 26.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Gift to the National Collection of Asian Art from Mr TT Tsui JP through the NGA Foundation 1994
Accession No: NGA 94.291.A-C

During the Han dynasty the tombs of the aristocracy were lavishly furnished with ceramic miniatures of houses, servants and animals. This unusually large mortuary figure depicts a breed of horse introduced into China from central Asia. In contrast to domestic Mongolian ponies, the imported horses were prized for their strength and size, and served to improve the Chinese cavalry. Known as 'celestial horse' objects such as this became a testament to the rank, wealth and social status of the deceased.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label