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Horses in Chinese Art and Culture

            Throughout China's long and storied history, no animal has affected its history as greatly as the horse. As a Chinese who was also born in the years of the Horse, I feel like I have an indissoluble bond with the horses. They are always considered as strong, graceful, elegant, yet extremely powerful creatures. Aside from being used for pulling chariots, carrying goods, pull the ploughs and served as people's transportation prior to the invention of vehicles, they were also given a mythological flavor in many art works and myths.
             The first art piece I want to talk about is a Gilded Bronze Plaque with a Winged Horse from the Xianbei Culture. This little hand-caved craft, which looks like a belt buckle, could be considered as an early evidence of the mysterious belief about horse human in history. In the middle of the first century, the Xianbei assumed control of parts of the Xiongnu Empire in eastern Central Asia, and played a complicated role in Chinese history from the third to the sixth century A.D. In the Xianbei culture, the mysterious animal on the plaque that looks like a winged horse is a spiritual animal that led them from their homeland in the far northeast into the Inner Mongolian Plain. .
             The spirit of the horse is recognized to be the Chinese people's ethos. As one of the 12 animals in the chinese Zodiac, It is a symbol of energy, loyal, and intelligent. People born in the year of the horse are often found animated, active and energetic as well. But the zodiac isn't the only place where the horse shows up in Chinese culture, it also played an important role in the mythology of early China. It is always associated with the dragon, with both the capability of flying and of carrying their riders to the "home of the immortals." The ability to fly has been associated with survival throughout all of Chinese history. A running horse, or a group of running horse, on the other hand, represents the speedy arrival of your good fortune.

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