Among China's various craft masterpieces, the Bronze Galloping Horse is unique with its splendid designs. It is a classical work of Chinese ancient aesthetics.
Horses were the most effective and swiftest tools in war, facilitating transportation and communications in ancient China. The strong cavalry was also very important in resisting the invasion of the Huns and keeping peace in the northern frontier of the Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220). Thus, people had the strongest reverence for horses at that time and regarded them as symbols of sanctity, power and the outstanding achievements of the nation. As a result, many images of steeds can be found in Han sculptures and craftworks. Among the artworks, the most outstanding is the Bronze Galloping Horse.
The masterpiece was unearthed in 1969 in the Leitai Tomb of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) in Wuwei County, Gansu Province. The bronze statue is a famous representative sculpture of the Han Dynasty. Wuwei County leapt to fame with the discovery of this national treasure.
The sculpture is 34.5cm high and 45cm long. The thundering horse is finely shaped in a galloping motion with one hoof treading on a swallow. The horse's position is unique and carefully balanced according to dynamics. The bronze statue, created about 2,000 years ago, is vivid and well-proportioned. The positioning of its four legs is realistic and life-like, winning high praise from both domestic and foreign archeologists and artists. Every part of the sculpture has been delicately designed with symmetry, and the posture emits a strong sense of motion.
In this work, Chinese ancient artisans combined realism and romanticism, and ingeniously integrated the galloping horse and flying swallow using rich imagination, original concepts and skillful craftsmanship. The romantic image of the swallow sets off the power and strength of the horse, instilling a rich, imaginative experience in viewers. Judging from the sculpture's accurate balance, the gravity center must have been rigorously calculated. Mechanical analyses indicate that Bronze Galloping Horse finds a center of gravity in the swallow, which gives the statue its stability.
Bronze Galloping Horse is believed to represent the "heavenly steed" of Chinese legend. The statue is of high craftsmanship and fully expressive of the horse-breeding culture of ancient China's western regions. The statue has become a symbol of Chinese tourism and a representative work that brings forth the time-honored cultural tradition of the Chinese nation and oriental aesthetics to the world. The cultural relic is now preserved at the Gansu Provincial Museum.