Wei Dynasty Armored Horse and Rider. 386–534 CE.
Civil unrest is nothing new or unique. By 386 CE, China was deeply divided by multiple warring territories. All had broken away from the previous governmental leadership and had declared their independence. This exodus shattered a nearly four hundred years-long peace in which philosophy and artistic expansion had been fostered. This new era continued for over one hundred and fifty years, with China not again united until 534 CE, when the Sui dynasty began reunification efforts.
The cultural material protected within the ancient tombs reflects the change from peace to war, and then to the restoration of relative peace. This superb equestrian figure is from the Wei dynasty, a period when ceramics and other art works were not produced in great quantity. Weapons were the primary items of importance during that time, making this piece extremely rare. Note the depiction of leather armor on the horse and rider.
This armored equestrian represents a fifteen hundred years-old period of warfare within China and is unusual both for its quality and rarity. The focus during this time period was upon weaponry, and its manufacture, not ceramics. This figure of a mounted horse and rider is one of numerous equestrian sculptures held by the Pamplin Collection.
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