Silver Pot With Cup-In-Mouth Dancing Horse Design.
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The leather bag style Silver Pot with Cup-in-Mouth Dancing Horse Design was unearthed in the Chinese Village of Hejia in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province in 1970. It is the first specimen of its kind ever been found among gold and Silver vessels of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and representative of the Khitan culture -- a tribe of herdsmen that offered the special pot to Emperor Xuanzong (712-756).
The Silver pot is 18.5 cm high with a spout covered with a gilt lid held in place by a chain attached to the gilt handle. Stirrup pots are derived from leather bags, which were used by the nomadic Horse people of the north. Different materials, including leather, wood, earthenware, china, porcelain and silver, have been used to fabricate pots, which were mainly carried on horseback or used in households. Such pots, many of which have been excavated from tombs of the period, were discovered with traces of milk, wine and water inside.
The Silver pot has a decorative design of a Horse with a ribbon around its neck and a flowing tail. The Horse has a drinking cup in its mouth -- an allusion to the poetry of the period that describes "dancing horses." Dancing horses often performed at courts, without riders, dancing to music. It is believed that horses were given wine in cups during the performance which they picked up and tilted into their mouths. Emperor Xuanzong celebrated the Dancing horses. On his birthday, 100 horses were covered in rich embroideries fringed with gold and silver, with their manes adorned with precious stones. The horses danced in two troupes with their heads tossing and tails beating to the music. They also stood on three-tiered benches as athletes lifted them into the air. Guards in golden armor, foreign acrobats, performing elephants and palace girls playing "thunder drums" joined in the performance.
The grandeur of the emperor's birthday celebration depicted on the pot expresses the richness of Chinese culture, as well as an exotic element. The piece is a remarkable example of workmanship from the Tang Dynasty and of unique value to Chinese culture.
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