About This Artwork

Japan

Horse, 5th-6th century

Earthenware
79 x 84.5 x 28.5 cm (31 1/8 x 33 1/4 x 11 1/4 in.)

Gift of Robert Allerton, 1957.248

This haniwa is a representation of a fully decorated horse, complete with saddle, stirrups, and bell ornaments on its front and back. The strap at the front has an incised chevron pattern, and the metal ring (suwari kanagu) used to gather up the leather straps at the back of a horse can be clearly seen. Excavated in Ibaragi prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, such a horse would have likely been at the front of a burial mound, in an area filled with a variety of figurines, as well as animal forms, perhaps meant to represent the possessions the deceased hoped to take with him after death. Horse breeds from the Asian continent proved to be effective militarily and quickly became symbols of wealth and power. Horses have also long been considered divine beings with special spiritual abilities.

— Permanent collection label




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