Ancient Artwork: comparative analysis

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Art and Culture

Art, a lot of times, is inseparable from culture. Therefore, art is very a powerful tool that society uses to express their cultural beliefs, their aspirations, strengths, and governance. Artwork is shown in many models, with drawings, paintings, songs, and costumes including many other key cultural attributes that take large significance in the manner in which society expresses what they believe to be most cordial to their existence. The sculptor is a type of art that plays a vital role in modeling the aspirations of people. The cultural arrangement that the people may find useful in their communities can be made and presented in sculptural values that reflect the basic animals, materials, physical features, and personalities that the communities adore. In Chinese cultural heritage, the horse is one animal that is revered and respected for its key admiration based on its attributes. The horse in many cultural Chinese societies represents agility, strength, nobleness, honesty, and status (p. 115-7).

Chinese Dynasties and Horse Sculptures

Most Chinese dynasties, therefore, made use of the horse for some duties like pulling chariots of war, fast movement, pulling heavy loads and just for prestigious form of transport (p. 115-7). Owing to the long-term relationship between man and horse, the admirations that are attached to the animal is very high among the Chinese cultural societies. Zang Dynasty and Han Dynasty are case examples of Chinese dynasties that revered the horse. Therefore, their development of the sculptural statutes that address their admiration was also expressed through the use of the Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb of Zhang Dynasty and the Terracotta Sui Dynasty Horse. The Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb of Zhang Dynasty and the Terracotta Sui Dynasty Horse are two pieces of art that explain deep similarities and stark differences between the manner in which the traditional Chinese societies valued and used the horse as expressed in the art model.

A Cultural Researcher's Perspective

As a cultural researcher and scholar, I have been dismayed by the beauty of the valor of the horses. Therefore, in considering these two pieces of art one from the Zang Dynasty and one from the Han Dynasty, I wished to see how the two dynasties made use of the horse as a way of making life meaningful to the point that they captured them in sculptural work. The two pieces of art seemed interesting to me because I love horses and I wanted to know maybe like what horses meant in their cultures and how different the horses were portrayed in the cultures. Further, I am interested in knowing how similar they were to each other. Once these values are achieved through the development of this research, I would also be interested in talking about how they may be different kinds of horses used for different things by the two dynasties. There is a possibility that the horses in these dynasties were more of symbols and therefore through making an inquests research study into the two dynasties and relating their reverence for the horse as well as that of their cultural values, I aim to make more meaning from the study concerning the Chinese cultural heritage. The research project, therefore, will be useful for the development of understanding into the key roles that the society may derive from the development of understanding on how cultural values have played across different cultures to show rich cultural values and heritage. I will research by looking into the physical differences and similarities, the cultural connotation in the similarities and the differences as well as the social/timeline similarities and differences.

Physical Attributes


Both the sculptors depict horses whose body shape and faces show the vibrant energy of the horsepower in the society and high-level virility. Both the horses show strong displays of muscular values on the legs, the neck and other parts of the body. The mane on the necks of the horses reminds one of the horse strength and the severity of energy stored in the animal. Further, the facial expressions of the two horses show seriousness and an intense animal action of work, thus the use of intense energy. These attributes depict what the Chinese societies attributed the horses. Horses were used to do the difficult duties like pulling chariots and other loads much faster. The two sculptors just confirm how useful the horse has been to the Chinese people.


Regarding size, the two sculptors are different. The Ancient Chinese Terracotta from the Sui Dynasty Horse is a sculptor that measures 18 ½” in height and 19” in length, while the Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb of Zhang Dynasty measures 13 ½” in height and 17 ¾” in length. It means that the Ancient Chinese Terracotta from the Sui Dynasty sculptor is slightly higher than the Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb of Zhang Dynasty and also a bit longer. The difference in height is 5 ½” and the difference in length is only 1.25”.

Concerning the material used, the Ancient Chinese Terracotta from the Sui Dynasty Horse, as the name suggests, is made from Terracotta material while the Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb of Zhang Dynasty is made of bronze. The different sculptural materials that are used in the sculptural work show the rich cultural values that the two dynasties exhibited. It was particularly possible to make use of any of the materials to devise the sculptural representation that they needed.
Regarding support and balancing, the Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb of Zhang Dynasty balances on one leg, and all the three other legs remain afloat showing the theme of a horse in motion. However, the Ancient Chinese Terracotta from the Sui Dynasty Horse balances on all four legs, denoting a horse that is in slow movement, one that is just about to take off or one that is stopping.

Cultural Connotations


In the Chinese cultural setups, even today, the horse connotes strong attributes of a person filled with strength and agility. A visit to the immigration departments, one will always find horses on the table, to show that the occupant of the office is a person who can allow movement from place to place. The strength bestowed in the office, therefore, cannot be overlooked whenever one needs to make travels. The same attributes of movement in strength are also displayed in the two sculptors. However, the sculptors in the houses should be placed facing doors or windows. It shows that the potential of energy and agility in the animal can be unleashed anytime to your movement as shown in these two sculptors.

On the same note, the placement of the horse sculptors in the Chinese society varies based on what the person would like to get. For those who like to have career increase, then placing the horse sculptors facing north is advised. However, for those who need fame, then facing the horse sculptor facing south would be advised. Southwestern location should be used by those who seek love and companionship. The sculptors should not be placed facing one directly, or directly behind them, as this is seen as a way to directly confront the power that one may not sustain. The uses of the two sculptors, therefore, have different meanings to the different people. Depending on where one stands near the two sculptors, one may experience career growth, fame, love or any other attribute that the horse may bring to the individual.

Strength in agility is key attributes and values that the two sculptors display for the Chinese people. It is useful, therefore, that the people get used to the strength and power of the horse. Whether the horse is taking off, or the horse is at full speed, it is always useful for the people observing the horses to get the inspiration and thus develop the mental capability to be able to achieve the qualities needed by the team or persons concerned with the achievement of a task.


The Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb of Zhang Dynasty is trampling a bird, which many people believe is a swallow. With the horse depicted as one on great speed, the literal meaning that has been attached to the sculptor is that the horse is incomparable to the swallow regarding speed, especially where agility is needed. Notably, the swallow is one of the swiftest, fast and very agile birds. Anything that can be above its speed must be a very fast animal, and it is the horse that has been depicted to display such attributes. Those people who need faster success, therefore, tend to be associated with the Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb of Zhang Dynasty. On the other hand, the Ancient Chinese Terracotta from the Sui Dynasty shows a horse that is balanced and used as it has straps and saddles on itself. The movement that is shown by the sculptor is one that is just taking off or one that is stopping. Many people have associated the sculptor with takeoff, and therefore, it has been a useful present to give to anybody who is beginning their careers or new jobs or studies. It shows that the takeoff can be strengthened through the horse, and so great achievements can abound.

Although both sculptors have strong social connotations, it is the Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb of Zhang Dynasty that is not reproduced or sold out to the people. It is protected by the Chinese government and made one of the national key sculptors used for the attribution of the Chinese people and origins. On the contrary, Ancient Chinese Terracotta from the Sui Dynasty is reproduced and sold out by key personnel and outlets. Such stark differences mean that it is common to come across the Ancient Chinese Terracotta from the Sui Dynasty in the people houses, premise or offices, but Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb of Zhang Dynasty can only be found in the reserved places of the national museums in China.

The Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb of Zhang Dynasty has no specific explanation of the cultural set up of the Zhang people who developed it. However, Ancient Chinese Terracotta from the Sui Dynasty has a face pointed downwards. A typical attribute of the Sui people in China is that they have faces pointed in the same direction. It is, therefore, useful to note that the sculptors may also be used to communicate the attributes of people who developed it.

Social and Timeline Attributes


Both the sculptural arts are useful pieces that show what happened a long time ago in the foundational Chinese cultures. They are helpful in explaining the kind of life the people lived then, the value they attached to the animals and how they could put the horses to use. It is, therefore, useful to study and develop an understanding of the sculptural work presented in the two pieces of art.


Regarding the time of development, the two sculptural works also differ significantly. For instance, the Ancient Chinese Terracotta from the Sui Dynasty Horse has only discovered 600 AD. However, the Flying Horse on a Swallow tomb that was developed by the Zhang Dynasty was developed in the approximated years 186-219 BCE. It means that the Flying-horse is much older than the Ancient Chinese Terracotta horse from the Sui Dynasty.


The two sculptural works are useful in explaining the rich Chinese cultural background. They are similar in many respects and also show a lot of differences. They explain how the Chinese people value their cultural setup and the value that they attached to the horses. The differences in the interpretation of the meanings are useful ways in which the two sculptors can be believed to influence the kind of life of an individual.


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Ancient Chinese Terracotta Sui Dynasty Horse - 600 AD, 18 ½ “ high x 19 ” long.

Flying Horse On A Swallow tomb of Zhang (local official, 186-219 BCE) Leitai Wuwei, Gansu, Western Han Dynasty, bronze, 13 ½ “x 17 ¾ “

July 24, 2021

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