By GABRIELLE NIU | Published: JANUARY 25, 2011
During the height of the Silk Road and the bright beginnings of the Tang dynasty, China was ruled by one Emperor Tang Taizong. Taizong’s rule is remembered for its economic prosperity, cultural richness and cosmopolitanism, as well as for its unprecedented expansion of Chinese borders into the Western Xinjiang Regions. At the end of his life, he constructed for himself a grand tomb, the Zhaoling Mausoleum, about 52 miles from present-day Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi province. Outside the sacrificial altar of his tomb, Taizong commissioned the sculpture of six of his favorite steeds in bas-relief. The Chinese Rotunda at the Penn Museum houses two of these sculptures depicting horses named Autumn Dew and Curly. (Penn Museum’s Head Conservator, Lynn Grant, documented their recent CONSERVATION on the Penn Museum Blog.)
East Asian Cultures and Languages graduate student, Sarah Laursen, speaks below on the history and significance of the museum’s noble steeds.
Also, the Penn Museum’s Chief of Staff Jim Mathieu and Senior Registrar Dr. Xiuqin Zhou recently visited the Zhouling Mausoleum themselves. Watch the video below for a short tour of the site where the Taizong’s noble steeds once stood.
For further reading, Dr. Zhou also published this paper about the Zhaoling Mausoleum in Professor Victor Mair’s series of Sino Platonic Papers.
- Gabrielle Niu