Grand National runners are not the only horses grabbing Liverpool limelight this week as a new addition joins the Terracotta Warriors.
The Golden Horse of Maoling is among a number of new artefacts being added to the landmark World Museum exhibition today (11 April).
Other items from China’s Han Dynasty will also be revealed, and will be showcased to visitors until the exhibition ends on 28 October.
A bronze wine heater adorned with intricate patterns of Chinese spiritual creatures and a bronze water clock which is one of only five in the world will join the gilded bronze horse, which is more than two feet tall and is the largest ever found in China.
The horse was discovered at Maoling near the Mausoleum of Emperor Wu, the fifth ruler of the Western Han dynasty, and it has been suggested that the burial pit in which it was found belonged to Princess Pingyang who was the elder sister of Emperor Wu.
Fiona Philpott, director of exhibitions at National Museums Liverpool, says: “The horse became a symbol of power, wealth and status for the Chinese after it was domesticated around 6,000 years ago in central Europe and Asia. They were so precious to the great rulers of ancient China that they were buried with them for the afterlife.
“Liverpool also has a long equestrian history, playing host to the world renowned Grand National Festival since 1839, so the addition of the Golden Horse to the exhibition this week is very apt.”
The slender body and muscles of the Golden Horse of Maoling suggest it represents one of the finer breeds of horses Emperor Wu imported from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Their famous shimmering coats, which were often golden in colour, led them to be known as ‘golden horses’.
According to National Museums Liverpool, Emperor Wu chose to be buried with the horses as he believed they could help him defeat the nomadic tribes of the north and bring him immortality.
Check out our review of the China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors exhibition at Liverpool’s World Museum here.