Xi'an and Shaanxi Province
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Kentucky Horse Park
International Museum of the Horse
The Millennium's First Great
Imperial China, organized by the Kentucky Horse Park's International Museum of the Horse in Lexington and seen by thousands of visitors during the spring and summer of 2000, was the first exhibition ever to explore the role of
the horse in more than 3,000 years of Chinese history and culture. Far more than just an
equestrian history, the more than 350 priceless artifacts not only illuminated
the horse's significance in art, warfare, leisure activities, and sport,
but also showed how this interaction affected the overall culture.
Beginning with the Western Zhou Dynasty
(1027-771 BC) and covering all subsequent dynasties through the Qing
(1644-1911), the world-exclusive exhibition contained many artifacts
never before seen outside of China. All of the art and artifacts were selected from the collections of museums throughout
Shaanxi Province, capital of China for more than a millennium and home of the terra-cotta army of China's first emperor.
- Two chariots from the Western Zhou
and Western Han dynasties (206 BC-9 AD) were restored specifically
for Imperial China. The bronze Han chariot is elaborately
inlaid with gold and will undoubtedly be declared a National Treasure
upon its return to China.
An outstanding selection of Western Zhou bronze artifacts depicting items used both in everyday life and in the equestrian culture of
- 12 life-size figures from the terra-cotta
army of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. A complete war chariot,
including four horses, driver, and two flanking guards, were
reassembled and presented to visitors. Also included from this
period: a cavalry soldier leading a horse, one of the emperor's
stable boys, a kneeling archer, and one of the army's seven generals.
- Many jade, gold, and terra-cotta figures
representing the Han Dynasty.
- One of the largest collections of the Tang
Dynasty's (618-907 AD) world-famous tri-colored equestrian figures
ever shown outside of China.
- A representative collection of gold, jade,
terra-cotta, and porcelain figures from all dynasties from the Tang
to the fall of the last Imperial court in 1911.
- Number of artifacts: 358
- Value of artifacts: Approximately $100,000,000.
- The significance of the horse in the unification of China.
- Exchanges of equestrian culture with the
Western world via the Silk Road.
- Mystical significance of the horse in ancient
- Significant Chinese advancements in horse
harnessing and accoutrements.
- The horse in Chinese art.
- The use of the horse in leisure activities
during the Tang Dynasty. Topics include the "Emperor's dancing
horses," hunting from horseback, and the introduction of polo
- The Mongol influence on Chinese equestrian