Earthenware with traces of unfired pigments, Chinese, about AD 750, 35.7 cm high.
This horse is a fine example of the many models of horses, camels, mythical beasts and human figures that were made for burial in the Tang dynasty. Their purpose was to protect or accompany the tomb occupant in the afterlife, and their forms provide an informative reflection of Tang life. For example models of camels or foreigners demonstrate the cosmopolitan nature of life in the capital and its debt to the Silk Road, while human figures document styles of dress. The figures were made in moulds, with the parts assembled together using dilute clay slip in a process known as luting. This type of horse, in life larger than the native Chinese pony and highly valued, was an import from Ferghana (present-day Uzbekistan). Presented to the Ashmolean Museum by Sir Herbert Ingram in 1956.