Central Asians Presenting Tribute Horses

View right to left

Artist: Traditionally attributed to Han Gan (ca. 715-after 781)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, early to mid-15th century
Ink, color, and gold on silk
H x W (image): 31 x 192.8 cm (12 3/16 x 75 7/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


China, horse, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)

To 1915
L.C. Pang Collection (1864-1949), Chekiang, China, to 1915 [1]

From 1915 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from the L.C. Pang Collection, through C.T. Loo, in San Francisco, in 1915 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 954, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. See also, P'ang Catalogue, No. 9. This object exhibits seals, colophons, or inscriptions that could provide additional information regarding the object’s history; see Curatorial Remarks in the object record for further details.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Pang Yuanji (C.L. Freer source) 1864-1949


While the particular ethnicity of these grooms is difficult to identify, the skillfully rendered details of their luxurious costumes and the blankets on the horses suggest they are Central Asian emissaries traveling to the Tang dynasty (618–907) capital Chang'an (modern Xi'an, Shaanxi Province) to bring precious tributes to the Chinese emperor. Such exotic scenes were undoubtedly quite common in that great cosmopolitan city during the seventh and eighth centuries, and similar processions of tribute bearers and horses appear in several paintings, all of which were based on original compositions from the Tang dynasty. The spurious inscription on the painting and the large seal above the central horse point to the famous eighth-century horse painter Han Gan as the artist.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton. "画中人 上海书画出版社." Chinese Figure Painting. Shanghai, China. .
  • Islamic art: an annual dedicated to the art and culture of the Muslim world. no. 1. .
  • Sadajiro Yamanaka. To-So Seikwa (Select relics of the T'ang and the Sung dynasties from collections in Europe and America). Osaka. pl. 5.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Paintings in American Collections. Annales du Musee Guimet. Bibliotheque d'art. Nouvelle serie. II Paris and Brussels, 1927-1928. pl. 3a-b.
  • Osvald Siren. A History of Early Chinese Painting. 2 vols., London. vol. 1, pl. 60.
  • Harriet E. Baker. The Horse Motif in China. vol. 2, no. 3 Los Angeles, October 1961. p. 20.
  • Mario Bussagli. Chinese Painting. Cameo London and New York. pp. 34-35, pl. 14.
  • The Horizon Book of the Arts of China. New York. p. 37.
  • William Cohn. Chinese Painting. London and New York. p. 53, fig. 18.
  • Agnes E. Meyer. The Charles L. Freer Collection. vol. 12, no. 2 Brooklyn, August 1927. p. 70.
  • Carl Diem. Asiatische reiterspiele: ein beitrag zur kulturgeschichte der völker. Berlin. p. 143.
  • Thomas Lawton. Chinese Figure Painting. Exh. cat. Washington, 1973. cat. 47, pp. 186-189.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku (Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting). 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. pp. 198-199.
  • Aurel Stein Lawrence Binyon. Un Dipinto Cinese Della Raccolta Berenson. Milan and Rome. pp. 266-267.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage conditions apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.