University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
1 - of 2 Records

Num results: 2

Objects

Relief Object On Display

Relief

Object Number:C396
Place Name:China, Shaanxi, Xi'an, Zhaoling
Period:Tang Dynasty
Culture: Chinese

Description

Emperor Taizong made his reputation as a great leader through military victories that extended China's borders beyond the empire he inherited from his father, who had founded the Tang dynasty in 618 CE. Of the thousands of horses who aided the Emperor in his quest for land and military supremacy only six were chosen to be enshrined at his Mausoleum, Zhaoling. Not only did each horse have its own name and unique set of attributes, they each received a laudatory poem composed by the Emperor himself. Their exploits come down to us through written accounts of the battles in which they played a defining role.

Each of the horses depicted on a relief was instrumental in one of his major victories. The horse depicted here is named Curly. Portrayed in paintings with a wavy coat of saffron-yellow hair, he was instrumental in suppressing a dangerous uprising. Although there are nine arrows, six in the front and three in the back sticking out of his body, the horse is shown walking briskly and with a spirit that defies his wounds.

Relief Object On Display

Relief

Object Number:C395
Place Name:China, Shaanxi, Xi'an, Zhaoling
Period:Tang Dynasty
Culture: Chinese

Description

After consolidating the Tang Empire, Emperor Taizong ordered six large stone panels to be carved with the portraits of his favorite horses. These were the horses he had ridden in overcoming his rivals and securing the borders of the country. From the laudatory poem he composed for each horse, we believe we can identify the two in our collection. The relief shown here depicts "Autumn Dew," also known as "Whirlwind Victory." Historical records say he was ridden in battle by the emperor during a great siege, when, after being stuck with an arrow, the emperor was forced to dismount and switch horses with his general, Qiu Xinggong. The general is shown here pulling the arrow out of Autumn Dew's chest while the horse stoically bears the pain.

The six horse reliefs were placed outside Taizong's tomb on an altar meant for memorial ceremonies. They stood there for over a thousand years worshipped by imperial and common people alike. Like their master, the horses had become divine in the minds of the Chinese people. They continue to hold a special place in their hearts to this day.

π
1 - of 2 Records

© Penn Museum 2017 Sitemap / Contact / Copyright / Disclaimer / Privacy / Upenn