Chinese statuette of a horse


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ITEMStatuette of a horse
CULTUREChinese, Northern Wei Dynasty
PERIOD386 – 535 A.D
DIMENSIONS404 mm x 350 mm x 230 mm
CONDITIONGood condition. Includes Thermoluminescence test by Laboratory Kotalla (Reference 02PR180521)
PROVENANCEEx Belgian private collection (2022), Ex English art gallery, Ex English private collection, Ex Hong Kong art collector, acquired in the early 1990s

The Northern Wei Dynasty, which reigned from 386 to 534 AD, was a pivotal period in Chinese history characterized by a fusion of nomadic and Han Chinese cultural influences. Founded by the Tuoba clan of the Xianbei people, the dynasty was marked by significant territorial expansion and cultural achievements. The Northern Wei Dynasty played a crucial role in the Sinicization of northern China, adopting many aspects of Han Chinese culture while retaining elements of their own nomadic heritage. This period saw advancements in art, literature, and Buddhism, with the latter becoming the state religion during the reign of Emperor Xiaowen, who initiated policies to sinicize the dynasty further.

One of the remarkable cultural artifacts from the Northern Wei Dynasty is the Horse Minqi statuettes. These miniature horse sculptures, typically crafted from ceramic, are renowned for their exquisite detail and craftsmanship. The Horse Minqi statuettes are believed to have served various purposes, including burial goods, offerings, and decorative items. They often depict horses in dynamic poses, capturing the vitality and grace of these animals. Some sculptures also feature riders, reflecting the importance of horsemanship and cavalry in Northern Wei society.

The Horse Minqi statuettes not only showcase the artistic achievements of the Northern Wei Dynasty but also provide valuable insights into the cultural and military practices of the time. Horses held great significance in nomadic cultures, symbolizing power, mobility, and prestige. As such, the production of these statuettes highlights the importance of horses in Northern Wei society, both in practical terms, such as transportation and warfare, and in symbolic and cultural contexts.