Print this page

Unknown: Galloping horse and horse with arrows

Unknown artist, Galloping horse and horse with arrows.

Horse with arrows by Unknown

This image is a popular image was inspired by a small bronze sculpture unearthed in 1969 in the Leitai Tomb of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) in Wuwei County, Gansu Province. The horse is said to portray the 'heavenly steed'. It is often shown with  swallow or swift beneath its hooves.

The original sculpture,  is 34.5 cm high and 41 cm long. The roaring horse is finely shaped in a galloping posture with one hoof treading on the back of a swallow. The posture is unique and carefully balanced according to dynamics. The bronze statue, created about 2,000 years ago, has a lively action and accurate proportions. The positioning of its four legs strictly conforms to that of a living horse and is highly praised by many local and foreign archeologists and artists. The horse is raising its head, neighing and galloping forward with one foot treading on a flying swallow.

In this work, Chinese ancient artisans combined realism and romanticism, and ingeniously integrated galloping horse and flying swallow through rich imagination, original conception and skillful craftsmanship. The swift flying swallow sets off the amazingly fast speed of the galloping horse. According to analysis of its mechanics, Bronze Galloping Horse finds a center of gravity in the swallow to give the statue its stability. The romantic image of the swallow sets off the power and strength of the horse, providing a rich imaginative experience for viewers.

A copy of the bronze sculpture can be found in the Governance Room of Building 1.

Unknown Bronze horse

A counter image is shown near the adjacent entrance with a series of arrows that have struck the horse as it gallops. Perhaps  the horse is fleeing.  What is certain is the popularity of  using archers on horseback particularly in Mongolia. Here, images are popular of the archer shooting rearwards in what is termed the Parthian shot.

References:

http://en.chinaculture.org/library/2008-01/22/content_37964.htm