What are examples of famous horse paintings

Horse painting in the Tang Dynasty

structure

1 Introduction

2. The Taizong - Emperor and his six horses

3. Physiognomy of horses

4. The painters and their works
4.1. Cao Ba (曹 壩)
4.2. Han Gan (韓 幹)
4.3. Li Gonglin (李公麟)
4.4. Zhao Mengfu (趙孟頫)

5. Outlook

1 Introduction

The horse plays a central role in the history of China, as well as in literature and mythology. It was a symbol of power and prestige for a long time before it was established in the Tang period (618-907 AD) as an independent and, above all, popular subject in the visual arts.

For more than 2000 years the horse itself had already held a great importance, mainly due to its extraordinary military importance for the German Empire. In the past horses only pulled chariots to battle.[1] However, when the enemies of China rode to battle on horseback, the Chinese were also forced to expand their cavalry.[2] As a result, horses were specifically imported, because only the best of their kind came into question for military purposes. The Taizong -Kaiser even made the purchase of riding horses a priority of his rule. Large herds of horses were therefore indispensable to guarantee the security of the country and are ultimately the reason for the rise of the empire. Harsh punishments, such as forced labor, were handed out to those who stole a horse from the government.[3] Because good horses were very valuable and no effort was spared to protect them. As a result, horses gradually played an increasingly important role in society. Polo was played at court or horses were trained to “dance” in order to entertain the gentlemen.[4] Since horses were very expensive and good horses very difficult to acquire, the privilege of riding horses was jealously guarded by the nobles of the empire, as evidenced by a royal decree dating from 667 that strictly allowed artisans and traders to ride horses prohibited.[5]

In this paper I will attempt to explain the origin, how the horse's incredible popularity came about in ancient China, and why this led to the establishment of the horse in the art of painting as an independent genre in the Tang period .

2. The Taizong Emperor and his six horses

The second emperor of the Tang period and who is considered to be the actual founder of this dynasty Li Shimin. He later went by that name Taizong -Emperor in the history of China. Already during his father's reign he achieved important military victories that consolidated the newly founded dynasty.

He was born in AD 626. eventually appointed himself emperor and ruled the country for 23 years. During his reign, China grew into a large armed force and he laid the foundation for a glorious and prosperous dynasty.

He had his greatest victories immortalized on stone reliefs that adorned his mausoleum, together with the horses on which he rode in the respective battle. Three reliefs each on the eastern and western sides. These stone sculptures, perhaps unique in the world, are testimony to his great victories, but above all they are praises of the Taizong -Emperor himself to his beloved horses.

Figure not included in this excerpt

Illustration 1: " The six warhorses of the Taizong Emperor “, Saffron yellow, University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia.

Each of the emperor's six favorite horses is shown individually in pose and appearance on its own stone. Four horses are shown galloping while two of them trot and one has an arrow removed from his chest by an officer. However, this is not the only horse that is immortalized with wounds from the battle.[6] Each is shown with a saddle and bridle, representative of horse care in the Tang Dynasty. The horse's tail is artfully braided and was used not only for decoration, but also to reduce wind resistance.

None of these proud animals is shown in the presence of a rider. Only one relief shows an officer removing an arrow from the horse's chest. However, there is no need for a rider with the animals, because the presence of the Taizong -Kaisers can be felt unmistakably.[7]

Figure not included in this excerpt

Figure 2: " The six warhorses of the Taizong Emperor “, Autumn dew, University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia.

But it's not just the loving and detailed production of the images that make these reliefs so famous. The emperor himself, it is said, attributed and dedicated a poem to each of his six faithful mounts. In the past, these poems seemed to have stood either at the right or left corner of each of the six stone images.

In the poems he mentions the name of each horse, praises the individual strengths of the animal and the battle it fought with him. These poems were then written by the renowned calligrapher Ouyang Xun (557-645) engraved in the space provided. These inscriptions are unfortunately no longer recognizable after more than 1000 years, but they have been passed down elsewhere. A pressure stone (stele), which was set up in 1089, testifies to these poems of praise to the horses.

The Taizong -Kaiser tells, for example, in a poem about his warhorse Te Qin Biao, a horse with yellow-white fur and a slightly black snout, with which he is against Song Jingang 619 AD has ridden. In this battle got rid of Li Shimin His armor remained for three days, and his horse was fully saddled for three days. In the poem writes Li Shimin the following about his warhorse:

"When whipped, it reared into the air, the noise of its neighing came down as from the sky. Rushing toward danger it bore down the enemy; It appeared at the critical moment and saved the difficult situation. "[8]

These stone sculptures are not only praises of his beloved horses, but also serve as documents and, above all, as monuments to his greatest successes. This fact may also be one of the reasons why the horse established itself in Chinese culture as a symbol of power and rank.

The peculiarity that make these stone sculptures so unique in the world are not the successes that are documented by them. It is the individuality that the Taizong -Kaiser gives his favorite horses. The emperor himself presumably left his horses in the name of a painter Yan Liben (approx. 600-674 AD) draw - not to say portray - and then have them chiseled in stone according to the drawings.[9] No other horse enjoys such fame and fame in the world as these six. No other horses went down in history by name or a poem dedicated to them. It is true that as early as the 4th century BC. Objects painted with horses used as grave goods, as well as grave walls decorated with horse paintings, or in later times emperors buried with 1000 horses by horses and also the Greeks and ancient Egyptians carved artistic horse sculptures, but not a single one of them is named.[10]

The Emperor's wish to capture his own horses individually not only gave rise to a new tradition of horse painting at the imperial court, but the emperor and the horse were increasingly perceived as being of equal value.[11] That's how it goes Taizong - Emperor's six battle horses entered history with him and were worshiped by the Chinese people as well as their owners and deified in their minds.[12]

3. Physiognomy of horses

Due to the fact that horses became more and more popular in China, especially during the Tang period, and that they became increasingly a political necessity, equine medicine and the art of recognizing a good horse naturally also gained more and more importance. And if one deals with horse painting in the Tang period, one should not underestimate the influence of horse physiognomy. Because to find out whether a horse was healthy and strong, horse physiognomy (chin. xiangma 相 馬) a popular solution. And the painters, too, took to heart the criteria in equine physiognomy for a good horse - in terms of both character and body. This pseudo-scientific doctrine probably originated in the Bronze Age (ca.) (approx. 770-476 BC) and also had a great influence on horse painting in Chinese art.[13]

If you are from xiangma speaks, one cannot avoid meeting the most famous Chinese master in the art of recognizing a good horse. Sun Yang lived during the 7th century BC. and was based on the Chinese constellation due to his tremendous understanding of horses Bole called, who was considered to be the leader of the heavenly horses, which is known in the west under the constellation of Scorpio.[14] According to his name, he was unrivaled in the field and his skills were so highly valued that he himself often became the subject of horse painting.

[...]



[1] Creel, H. G. (1965): “The Role of the Horse in Chinese History”, in: The American Historical Review, Vol. 70, 3, pp. 647-672, here: p. 648

[2] see Cook, Bill (2000 / ed.): Imperial China: The Art of the Horse in Chinese History, Lexington: Kentucky Horse Park (exhibition catalog), here: p. 27

[3] see Cook, Bill (2000 / ed.): Imperial China: The Art of the Horse in Chinese History, Lexington: Kentucky Horse Park (exhibition catalog), here: p. 47

[4] see Cook, Bill (2000 / ed.): Imperial China: The Art of the Horse in Chinese History, Lexington: Kentucky Horse Park (exhibition catalog), here: pp. 48 and 52

[5] Harrist, Robert E., Jr. (1997): Power and Virtue - The Horse in Chinese Art, New York: China Institute in America, here: p. 22

[6] see Zhou, Xiuqiu (2001): “Emperor Taizong and His Six Horses”, in: Orientations, Vol. 32, 2, pp. 40-46, here: p. 41

[7] Harrist, Robert E., Jr. (1997): Power and Virtue - The Horse in Chinese Art, New York: China Institute in America, here: p. 19

[8] Zhou, Xiuqiu (2001): “Emperor Taizong and His Six Horses”, in: Orientations, Vol. 32, 2, pp. 40-46, here: p. 42

[9] Harrist, Robert E., Jr. (1997): Power and Virtue - The Horse in Chinese Art, New York: China Institute in America, here: p. 18

[10] Zhou, Xiuqiu (2001): “Emperor Taizong and His Six Horses”, in: Orientations, Vol. 32, 2, pp. 40-46, here: p. 46

[11] Harrist, Robert E., Jr. (1997): Power and Virtue - The Horse in Chinese Art, New York: China Institute in America, here: p. 19

[12] Zhou, Xiuqiu (2001): “Emperor Taizong and His Six Horses”, in: Orientations, Vol. 32, 2, pp. 40-46, here: p. 44

[13] Harrist, Robert E., Jr. (1997): "The Legacy of Bole: Physiognomy and Horses in Chinese Painting", in: Artibus Asiae, Vol. 57, 1/2, pp. 135 - 156, here: p. 135

[14] see Harrist, Robert E., Jr. (1997): "The Legacy of Bole: Physiognomy and Horses in Chinese Painting", in: Artibus Asiae, Vol. 57, 1/2, pp. 135-156, here: pp. 135-136

End of the reading sample from 22 pages