Tang Animals

The Tang capital, Chang’an (Xian) in Shaanxi province, was the greatest city in the contemporary world. In the 1st half of the dynasty it was the centre for trade, the exchange of ideas and for the arts. It was also a place of luxury, intrigue and beautiful women. Amongst the latter the most famous was indubitably Yang Guifei, the notorious consort of the Emperor Ming Huang. According to tradition she is the reason behind the fashion for somewhat plumper ladies along with the more slender images. Women did not merely influence events through subordinate positions in the Tang period, Empress Wu dominated the Emperor Gaozong in the latter part of his reign and ruled through puppet emperors and in AD 690 took the title of Emperor and proved to be a very able and strong ruler. Male figures among the earthenware are often shown as high court officials with solemn expressions. Other figures though will include warriors, musicians, dancers and polo players, the latter being male or female.

During the Tang dynasty the Silk Road was again used for a very active trade between China and the West and foreigners were not only common on trade missions or in embassies they also settled in the capital in significant numbers. Tang potters enjoyed producing caricature-like depictions of foreigners. There was an openness for other religions, arts and philosophies that greatly enriched the cultural life. In return China sent goods, envoys and scholars to other parts of the world, including black powder. The wealth of the Tang owed much to overland and seaborne trade and the value of camels was immense as “ships of the desert” who could carry vast amounts of cargo and are among the most prestigious of tomb figures.

One of the major passions of the Tang Dynasty was horses. The Ferghana Horse had been introduced into China from the west during the Han dynasty and was greatly valued for its speed, endurance and beauty. The horses found in the tombs all try to show these qualities and the pride of their owners in them. Either with trappings or unsaddled they are always magnificent and impressive.

Today horses, camels and ladies in particular should be tested for authenticity with a Thermo luminescence Test – T.L Test