Northwest China or Inner Mongolia / Horse plaque / 4th?3rd century B.C.Northwest China or Inner Mongolia
Horse plaque
4th?3rd century B.C.

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese; Inner Mongolian
Creator Name-CRT: Northwest China or Inner Mongolia
Title: Horse plaque
View: Principal view
Creation Start Date: 0
Creation End Date: 0
Creation Date: 4th?3rd century B.C.
Creation Place: Northwest China or Inner Mongolia
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Materials and Techniques: Silver with mercury gilding
Dimensions: H. 5 in. (12.7 cm)

Intriguing metal artifacts such as this silver plaque and scattered references in Chinese and Western histories are our only sources of information about the numerous pastoral, seminomadic, and horse-riding tribes that inhabited the vast reaches of Central Asia traversed by the Silk Road.

Most likely used as an adornment on a bridle or other equine accoutrement, this small plaque illustrates the dissemination of artistic motifs across Asia. The beaklike shape of the horse's muzzle, the dramatic twist of its hindquarters, and the lively openwork frame all reflect an imagery and stylistic approach found in objects made earlier by Indo-European Scythian peoples living on the Iranian plateau and in the area around the Black Sea. Comparable motifs appear in tattoos on the body from tomb 2 at Pazyryk, in the Altai mountains of southern Siberia. Eight of the twenty-five burial mounds (kurgan) at that site, currently dated between the late fourth and early third century B.C., have yielded textiles and metalwork from West and Central Asia as well as silk, lacquer, and metalwork from China.

This plaque was cast in silver and has remnants of gilding on its surface. It was probably made in North China for a member of the Yuezhi or one of the other confederacies in Central Asia that maintained an active trade with various Chinese centers, exchanging furs and carpets for commodities such as grain and luxuries such as silk or metalwork.

AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York
ID Number: 18.43.8
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1918
Copyright: Copyright ? 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved.
AMICA ID: MMA_.18.43.8
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright (c) 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All Rights Reserved

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