Collecting Masterpieces
Photo of tang-polo-players-horse-tl-test-archeology-galerie-golconda

 

Archaic and Imperial Chinat
PAIR OF POLO PLAYERS

 

Object :
Nº 1554
Medium :
Terracotta
Dimensions :
Height: 38 cm (14.9”) – Width: 31 cm (12.2")
Bibliography :
Published in "Collecting Masterpieces" Part One by Beryl Cavallini, pages 14 - 15

Interesting pair of lady playing polo in polychromic terracotta. The riders and their mount are symmetrical. Each jumping horse presents a vigorous croup, flaring nostrils, bulging eyes, small pointed ears and a braided tail as it used to be for horses owned by the noble people of that time. Both women are dressed in the barbarian style with a tunic over a pair of trousers. The colours are lively and fresh. Each woman has her hair in a chignon high on the top of the head, in the Uyghur manner. The two statues are in a good state of preservation with possible ancient repairs.

The sport of polo was born in Central Asia 2000 years ago as part of the entertainment at the Sassanid court, and was also rapidly played all the way to the borders with India. The word Polo derives from the Tibetan pulu, which is the wood from which the ball was made. Around 630 AD, the Tang began their big expansion towards the West, transforming Chang’an, today Xi’an located at the start of the Silk Road, into a cosmopolitan capital. They would discover the habits of the Xianbei nomadic tribes who controlled the Northern steppe areas, where the breeding of horses was intense. Women of these tribes had great physical freedom, allowing them to ride horses and play polo game. The introduction of this game in China dates back to the Tang Dynasty. Polo was then a sport widely practiced by all the different levels of the society, and also by women, despite its roughness. This pair of lady polo players, nicely painted and still very fresh, was created as symmetrical in order to be shown facing. Each jumping horse presents a vigorous croup, flaring nostrils, bulging eyes, small pointed ears and a braided tail as it used to be for horses owned by the high society of that time. Both women are dressed in the “barbarian” style coming from the West, with a long tunic covering a large pair of trousers, her hair in a chignon high on the top of the head, in the Uyghur manner. They are both extremely lively, representing the typical manner of the masterpieces of the Tang statuary.