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Funerary Statuette: Horse




Tang dynasty (618-907 C.E.)


Funerary Statuette: Horse


8th c.


Earthenware, three-colour lead glaze (sancai)


49.5 x 15 x 46 cm


Purchase, subscription, inv. 1918.Ed.4


Archeology and World Cultures

The display of wealth, both in this world and in the hereafter, was widespread during the Tang dynasty. Earthenware figurines such as this one were transported on carts as part of elaborate funeral processions that led to the deceased’s tomb. Three-colour (sancai) figurines became symbols of affluence and status, with one-upmanship being the driving force of their mass-production and display. The body was made with two moulds joined vertically. Once the piece was removed from the moulds, the joints were camouflaged with relief elements. In response to the frenzy of consumption surrounding funerals, an imperial edict was eventually issued to put a stop to these costly and ostentatious displays. Limits were set as to the number, size and quality of the figurines based on the rank of the deceased. As a result, it is now possible to determine the social status of a tomb’s occupant.

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