In the Chinese zodiac system, certain animals have long been associated with particular years in the twelve-year cycle. At least as far back as the third century B.C., people believed that the attributes of these animals could be seen in those born in each year, defining one’s character and having an affect on one’s future. These beliefs continue to be strong today throughout Asia. The horse is associated with strength, energy, intelligence, communication, and popularity, but also impatience and stubbornness.
This exhibition showcases some of the more common portrayals of horses in Japanese and Chinese art from the 6th to the 18th centuries in which these attributes can be seen. Essential in battle, and therefore integral to securing and maintaining power, the horse was often represented in sculpture in China. Fine breeds featured as minqi or funerary objects, representations of prized possessions meant to accompany the deceased into the afterlife and offer protection. Horses were also immortalized in precious jade, testifying to the affection and respect that people had for them.
In Japan, the horse became one of the most important features of warrior culture. From an early age, boys were taught to ride for contests and ceremonies. Images of spirited horses in stables, painted one per panel, were one of the earliest subjects depicted on multi-panel folding screens. Horses have always had an important place in indigenous Shintô religious beliefs, and by the 15th century, the commissioning and donating of votive paintings to shrines featuring horses (ema) pulling at their tethers became a widespread practice among the warrior class.
Isoda Koryusai. Young samurai on horseback, about 1769/1770. Clarence Buckingham Collection.
10 hours 49 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago FRIDAY—Kick off the holidays in Chicago with a time-honored tradition as we don our beloved lions with traditional evergreen wreaths. Warm up with free hot chocolate, enjoy live music and family activities in the museum, and visit our Neapolitan crèche and the Holiday Thorne Rooms.
WREATHING OF THE LIONS—http://bit.ly/1ATN0Qy
1 day 3 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago We are thrilled to welcome internationally recognized Chinese art scholar Tao Wang as the Pritzker Chair of the Department of Asian Art and Curator of Chinese Art, as the department aggressively seeks to expand the reach and raise the profile of our Asian collections and programs.
“I am thrilled to join such a storied institution,” said Wang. “This is an exciting time in the field of Asian art, and I look forward to using my knowledge and connections to enhance the Art Institute’s already distinguished collection of Asian art, as well as to promote its research in this area.”