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Plaque with a Winged Horse

Period:
Xianbei culture
Date:
1st century A.D.
Culture:
China
Medium:
Gilded bronze
Dimensions:
H. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm); W. 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1924
Accession Number:
24.174.7
  • Description

    A confederation of tribes who spoke different languages and came from different regions, the Xianbei assumed control of parts of the Xiongnu Empire in eastern Central Asia in the middle of the first century B.C., and played a complicated role in Chinese history from the third to the sixth century A.D. Xianbei traditions tell of a mysterious animal spirit that was shaped like a horse and bellowed like an ox that led them from their homeland in the far northeast into the Inner Mongolian Plain. It is possible that the winged horse on plaque illustrates that legendary event.

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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
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