Chinese statuette of a Sogdian rider


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ITEMStatuette of a Sogdian rider
CULTUREChinese, Tang Dynasty
PERIOD618 – 907 A.D
DIMENSIONS560 mm x 510 mm x 175 mm
CONDITIONGood condition. Includes Thermoluminescence test by Laboratory Kotalla (Reference 26PR180521)
PROVENANCEEx Belgian private collection (2022), Ex English art gallery, Ex English private collection, East Anglian, acquired from Hong Kong art market in 1990s

The Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) in China was a period of great cultural flourishing and international exchange. During this time, the Tang Empire extended its influence along the Silk Road, facilitating vibrant trade and cultural interactions with various regions, including Central Asia. The Sogdians, an ancient Iranian people, played a significant role in these exchanges as they were prominent traders along the Silk Road. Sogdian merchants established communities in Tang China, contributing to the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the dynasty. These interactions led to the assimilation of foreign elements into Tang culture, enriching it with diverse influences.

One remarkable aspect of Tang-Sogdian cultural exchange is reflected in the depiction of Sogdian riders in Minqi art. Minqi, or “folk art,” encompassed a wide range of popular art forms in Tang China, including pottery figurines. These figurines often depicted scenes of daily life, including various ethnic groups such as Sogdian riders. The representation of Sogdian riders in Minqi art not only reflects the presence of Sogdian communities in Tang China but also underscores the cultural integration and exchange occurring during this period.

The depiction of Sogdian riders in Tang Dynasty Minqi art provides valuable insights into the multicultural nature of Tang society and its vibrant cultural exchanges along the Silk Road. These figurines serve as tangible evidence of the dynamic interactions between different ethnic groups and the assimilation of foreign elements into Tang culture.