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Funerary Statuette: Polo Player

Location

NORTH CENTRAL CHINA

Era

Tang dynasty (618-907 C.E.)

Title

Funerary Statuette: Polo Player

Date

Mid-late 8th c. C.E.

Materials

Earthenware, traces of pigment

Dimensions

31.2 x 42.3 x 10.9 cm

Credits

Gift of Neil F. and Ivan E. Phillips, inv. 1978.Ed.2

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

This tomb figure of a polo player provides a glimpse of the pastimes of the aristocracy. The game of polo was a popular sport among the Chinese elites during the Tang dynasty. Introduced from Persia by way of the Silk Road, it was played by men and women in two teams of sixteen. Riders and their mounts performed in elegant embroidered gear. Just like today, the object of the game was to hit the ball into the opposing team’s goal. From the earliest times, the Chinese elites had a keen interest in horsemanship, which perhaps explains their attraction to the foreign sport.

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