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Showing posts from May, 2019

The heavenly horses of the Han Dynasy

The most well-known part of the Silk Road are the so-called northern routes of the overland Silk Road. These routes linked Xi’an in China, with Lanzhou, Dunhuang, Turfan and Kashgar. Traditionally the “opening” of this branch of the Silk Road is attributed to the military and commercial missions of Emperor Wudi, who ruled from 157 to 87 BC during the Han Dynasty. Although silk is often considered to be the main commodity exchanged, but what really kick started the trade over these northern routes was the Chinese demand for horses, and in particular ‘heavenly horses.’ But, as you may wonder, what were heavenly horses? Where did they come from? And what were the motives behind the desire for horses in Han-period China? 
Unfortunately, the breeds of horses associated with these ‘heavenly horses’ are extinct today, but archaeological discoveries can provide us with a glimpse of how they may have looked like. For instance, the remarkable statue of a galloping horse found in Wuwei city, Ga…

Episode 1: It All Started with a Horse

In this first episode of the Silk Road Talk podcast, we will talk about horses, and in particular ‘heavenly horses’ of the Han Dynasty. The demand for these horse kickstarted the trade over the northern routes of the overland Silk Road. What were heavenly horses? Where did they come from? and what were the reasons for their popularity?

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Article: The heavenly horses of the Han Dynasy
The Flying Horse of Gansu
Galloping Horses discovered in Eastern Han Tombs Eastern Han Ceramic Prancing Horse Han Bronze Horse with Lead Saddle
Tang Dynasty Ceramic Horse