A white marble torso of a saddled horse

 唐或五代  石雕鞍馬軀幹

The torse is finely carved with an undecorated saddle with well rounded contours, set on a cloud-incised saddle-pad with two florette decorated straps, over mud-guards with further clouds. The breast-strap is set with florettes and suspended with a large tassel at the front and smaller ones to each side, while the breech-strap, also set with florettes, is suspended with bell-like ornaments. The flanks of the horse are smoothly polished. The stone is fine grained and uniformly white in colour. 

Collection of Richard Nathanson (1947-2018)

It is rare to find a horse of these proportions carved in stone. A saddled stone horse, still complete with legs and head is in the Zhaoling Museum. It was excavated in 1971 from the tomb of Zheng Rentai (601-663), a Tang dynasty general important enough to be buried in the Zhaoling burial ground of the Taizong emperor (r.626-49). The horse is equipped with a military saddle, with detailed depiction of reins, bridle and associated straps and stands 52 cm high, comparable to the original height of the present horse. The Zheng Rentai stone horse was originally part of a group of five horses and four attendants, made in two kinds of stone, one limestone and one of a lighter colour. They were placed on a stone plinth within the tomb. For images and a description, see 新春赏宝~郑仁泰墓石雕战马 


Larger horses, sometimes carved in marble, were often included in pairs as part of a “Spirit Road” leading to an important tomb. For a pair of grey and white marble horses’ heads from such horses, given a tentative dating to the Tang dynasty, and now in the Norton Museum, Palm Beach, see the Norton Museum collection catalogue, no. 70, p. 182. The authors make a link between the harness configuration seen on these heads and those seen on the ‘Six Chargers of the Emperor Taizong”, famously carved on stone panels and installed in the emperor’s tomb. Perhaps Zheng Rentai’s horses, five not six, of course, were inspired by his knowledge of these panels.

Dimensions: Dimensions: 16 x 40 x 23 cm, 6 x 15 ¾ x 12 ½ inches (16 x 40 x 32 cm, 6 x 15 ¾ x 12 ½ inches with stand)

Date: Tang dynasty (618-906) or Five Dynasties (907-960)

Stock No. 2325

Price: On Request