Item #: 2085

Date: Tang Dynasty (c. 618 - 906 CE)

Medium: Mottled Cast Iron

Size: 13 ½” H, 15” L

Testing Reports:

Description: This iron horse is only one of four known and is the only one that has been scientifically date to the Tang Dynasty. The Chinese were making white iron at least as far back as the Han Dynasty, and cast iron, in general, as early as the 5th century BCE. In contrast, iron casting in the West did not begin until the Medieval period, roughly 1300 years later than in China. Though cast iron was widely used in ancient China, its use for sculptures was far less common than for utilitarian objects.

This majestic horse, standing foursquare with its head slightly lowered, is a rarity among Chinese Tang Dynasty artifacts. Most metal art objects of the Tang were crafted from bronze, gold or silver, and numerous examples of each have survived. In contrast, iron corrodes readily, resulting in loss of detail, and even the total loss of the original metal. This iron horse is modeled in a simple yet elegant style, and the mane and facial features have survived more than 1000 years of exposure, making this piece a rare treasure.

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