A Pair Of Painted And Glazed Pottery Horses

Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
Reference #: P9192

Height: 10 1/4 inches (26 cm.)
Length: 11 1/8 inches (28.3 cm.)

Each horse modeled standing foursquare on a flat, rectangular base, with head held straight and with long tails, fitted with a saddle covered with a long cloth and an ornamented harness and bridle. The horses are playful, with sweet faces and soft rounded bodies bedecked with colorful saddlecloths and harnesses decorated in green and yellow glazes and cold painted pigments.

Following the Tang dynasty there was a steady diminution of the production of tomb wares. A subtle cultural shift laid greater stress on acts in the present life and the creation of art served the aesthetic desires of the intellectuals and imperial court, making great strides in the all areas of the arts: painting, calligraphy, poetry, porcelain and sculpture. As a result of the waning demand for grave goods control of production passed out of the imperial domain.

By the Ming dynasty, burial rites involved fewer goods, certainly offerings of foods and the like but symbolic figurines were not always present and were often made of wood or even paper. Among its many items one Ming tomb lists the following wooden pieces: “16 musicians, 24 armed guards, 6 bearers, 10 female attendants” and various spirits. If pottery figurines were commissioned, they were most often made by the artisans who made the fabulous roof tiles and ornaments that adorned their domiciles and temples. These were made of a high fired pottery and typically glazed with green, yellow and aubergine. The present figures exhibit an interesting use of glazes for specific details as opposed to covering a large surface area. The glazes offer a glossy contrast to the subdued tones of the cold painted pigments and enliven the decoration of the pair.

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