Figure Riding a Horse



Period China, Western Han dynasty, 2nd - 1st century B.C.
Materials and techniques Earthenware painted with unfired pigments
Size H.59.1 L.49.8 W.17.8


During the Han period of China, a tomb was considered a place of life for the deceased, and it was customary to make models, called mingqi, of persons, animals, domestic appliances, houses and towers to be buried with the dead. This is a mingqi of a man riding a horse. Since many similar pieces were excavated from an ancient tomb of the early Western Han dynasty, this piece is believed to be of the same period. The horse stands majestically with all four legs firmly on the ground and stretches his neck as he neighs, and the rider probably held the rein in one hand, while the other hand probably held a flag or a spear. The figure, which has well retained its colors, is a wonderful specimen giving us a glimpse at the ceramic art of the Western Han period.