Tang Dynasty Tomb Horse Rides Again

Some objects are nearly impossible to keep in one piece over their lifetimes. When you have a terracotta from the 8th century, keeping it protected can be rather challenging. More times than not, these pieces are more repair than original.

This horse was no exception to the challenge. The client came to me with the poor beast in pieces and somewhere in the afterlife, an unfortunate Chinese Lord was suddenly unable to ride his steed.

I set to work right away on the repairs while I pondered the best mount design to keep this from happening again. Similar to an actual horse, there is a great deal of weight pushing down on tiny legs and ankles and fractures happen often.

Once the restoration was complete, I had formed a solid design in my head that would completely alleviate the strain upon the legs while being as invisible as possible.

I designed an internal compression mounts to allow the horse to hover ever so slightly above a heavy steel plate. The steel plate will greatly lower the center of gravity as well as increase the footprint considerably.

The internal mount is detached and inserted into the hollow of the horse’s body cavity. Like Luke Skywalker into the belly of a tauntaun if you will.

“I thought they smelled bad on the outside”

By adding a spacer below the horse’s base, I can align the receiving holes to the fasteners in the support rod.

Then the piece is slowly lowered into position and the phillips screws are adjusted to engage the mild compression. The results were such that you can just slip a sheet of paper underneath the piece with a little effort. This means that a majority of the objects weight is now being supported in its most stout area, the body cavity. The legs no longer have to do the work they’ve done for the last 1,400 years or so.

I’m really happy with the results and I can’t wait for the client to see it. From the side views (which is how the client will display the piece) the mount is barely visible. For the first time in many months, I can now sleep a little easier knowing that this beautiful piece is now much safer and can bring enjoyment for another 1,400 years.

Now in some pastoral field in the afterlife, a sad Chinese Lord can wipe his tears and ride off into the ethereal sunset. Giddy up m’lord. Giddy up.

5 Replies to “Tang Dynasty Tomb Horse Rides Again”

  1. Hi
    Fantastic idea can you make them to sell I sure can use one that I’m just now restoring But the cavity is much open underneath

    1. Hello Vincent. The real success of these mounts comes from how custom they are to individual pieces. Each object is different of course so what works for one may not work for another. They have to be perfectly snug to be effective. Too much strain on such fragile terracotta could be problematic. In other words, yes I could but I’d have to fabricate it using the actual antiquity while doing so.


  2. Thanks so much for your reply I understand but afraid too ship I have the original base to Tang horse may just have to trust that to hold horse as original
    Thanks for your help

    1. Good afternoon! Might you have mountmakers in your area? You can send me an email directly and let me know where you live and perhaps I can help connect you to a local mountmaker. Having repaired a few of these I can attest to how fragile they are. Let me help you find a way to keep yours safe.


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