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Central Asian Antiquities

Lady horse rider

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Lady horse rider
7th - 8th Century A.D.

Place of origin: Astana, Xinjiang, China
Materials: Stucco, painted
Dimensions: Height : 24.5 cm
Acc. No. Ast.iii.2.016 and Ast.iii.2.022 (2003/7/1922)

This beautiful sculpture depicts a lady horse-rider of the T'ang period (618 - 906 A.D.). She wears a high cap, tight fitting tunic and pants. She is riding a horse with saddle black on tiger-skin saddle cloth with flowing straps on near side, white streak down face. Her forehead is decorated with a beauty mark in red. She sits astride, holding reins. She wears long trousers black shoes small dark blue bodice with V-shaped opening in front and short upper - sleeves. Head and face is very neatly modelled and finished. Hair is black her done in high topknot over which is painted mesh of hair - net in grey color.

From this particular site of Astana many horse-riders were found but this was the only example of a lady-horse-rider while others were in military gear of men. All these mounted figures were evidently meant to symbolize the retinue desired for the dead in his future abode. The lady and her horse are typically Chinese in style. Horses played very important role in the Chinese history. At one point of time Chinese were paying heavily for the strong West Asian horses, as the horses which were found in China were pygmy in size and being heavy sluggish in movement. Hun attackers used to take advantage of the situation and after attacking and looting the Chinese dominion used to swiftly go back. The people were so enthralled by the majestic horses that horse was treasured and appreciated by one and all. It also got important representations in the Chinese Art. It changed the dress style of Chinese soldiers as they laid aside their traditional dress in order to adopt the high boots, baggy trousers and close-fitting tunic evolved by the attacker&rsquos life-style and it brought Ferghana known for the best horses within reach of the Chinese.

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