Handscroll; ink and color on paper; 18 1/2 x 65 3/4 in. (47 x 167 cm)
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1989.363.5)
The right side of this handscroll dates to the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, when China was ruled by the Jin dynasty; the left side was inscribed and illustrated during the fourteenth-century Yuan period. Essential to Mongol culture, the tireless and agile Central Asian horse had long been praised in China as the "celestial steed." During the Mongol period, it came to symbolize the prompt success, rapid conquest, and easy communication that united the empire. The familiarity with which the Mongol rider on the left sits bareback, nonchalantly looking at the two other horses, suggests the intimate relationship the Mongols had with their inseparable companions.