Rare crouching funerary horses discovered in Zhou Dynasty ruins

08:45, April 15, 2010      

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Archeologists found the funerary horses are in a position of crouching, which is very rare. (Xinhua photo)

Crouching funerary horses have been discovered for the first time in China within the Chinese Zhou Dynasty ruins of Chenzhuang Village in Gaoqing County, Qilu Evening News reporters learned during a news conference about the excavation of the Chenzhuang Village ruins held in Jinan on April 12.

Zhong Tongxiu, head of the Shandong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, said after major ruins such as chariot and horse pits were entirely relocated to Jinan, initial protection measures have been taken. Preservationists have built temporary protection and research rooms as well as formulated protection plans.

It is unusual that the horses in the chariot pits all have a crouching position with their heads either held high or slightly tilted, said Li Xueqin, director of the Institute of History under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Li said funerary horses dug up in the past were mostly lying on their sides, so crouching funerary horses are very rare.

"This is the first time for me to see crouching funerary horses during my career, and it is perhaps the first time that crouching funerary horses were ever discovered in China," he said.


It is the first time that crouching funerary horses were found in China. (QLWB photo)

Li Cunxin, who is a researcher from the Cultural Relic Protection Center under the CASS and was responsible for the excavation, said the trunks of all the horses are put in rectangle mangers and their legs are bent maintaining a crouching position. There are traces of red leather as well as a string of shell ornaments near the tails of the horses.

He initially concluded that the mangers in which the horses are placed were specially made to have the horses maintain the crouching position. As there are no traces of struggle, the horses should have been stuck in the mangers after they died, in order for them to maintain their current crouching position.

Li Cunxin added that the custom of emperors being buried with funerary carriages driven by six horses and the custom of feudal lords being buried with funerary carriages driven by four horses existed in the Zhou Dynasty. As two of the carriages in the pit are each equipped with four horses and one with two horses, it can be concluded that the tomb belongs to a lord, but further research should be conducted to determine his level.

By People's Daily Online

(Editor:王寒露)

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