Exhibitions/ Art Object

西汉 马蹄金三枚
Three Hoof-Shaped Ingots

Western Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 9)
a (M1: 1814-8): H. 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm); W. 2 5/16 in. (5.8 cm); Wt. 8.892oz. (252.1g) b (M1: 1814-9): H. 1 9/16 in. (3.9 cm); W. 2 3/8 in. (6 cm); Wt. 8.377oz. (237.5g) c (M1: 1814-10): H. 1 5/8 in. (4.2 cm); W. 2 3/8 in. (6 cm); Wt. 8.683oz. (246.2g)
Credit Line:
Lent by Jiangxi Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology
Not on view
In 2011 local governments intercepted the looting of an ancient tomb west of Nanchang. Excavations revealed that it belonged to Liu He (92–59 B.C.), who in 74 B.C. was enthroned as emperor but was deposed after only twenty-seven days. He became known as the marquis of Haihun. Among the hundreds of gold ingots recovered from his tomb were nearly fifty in the shape of hooves. They are of particular significance, for in 95 B.C. Emperor Wu (r. 141–87 B.C.) ordered that the name of gold coinage be changed to linzhi (qilin-hoof) and mati (horse-hoof) to match auspicious omens he had seen in a vision: a white qilin unicorn and a “heavenly” horse.
Excavated from the tomb of Marquis Haihun in Nanchang, Jiangxi, 2015 (2015 年江西南昌海昏侯墓出土)

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C.–A.D. 200)," April 3, 2017–July 16, 2017.

Jianxi sheng wenwu kaogu yanjiusuo 江西省文物考古研究所 (Jiangxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology) and Shoudu bowuguan 首都博物館 (The Capital Museum). Wuse xuanyao: Nanchang Handai Haihun houguo kaogu chengguo 五色炫曜:南昌漢代海昏侯國考古成果(Splendid finds: the archaeological excavation of the Han marquis Haihun’s tomb complex in Nanchang). Nanchang: Jiangxi renmin chubanshe, 2016: 121.