The Evolutionary Lineage of the State’s Equine Resources and Han and Tang Prosperity

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.8, 2020


The Evolutionary Lineage of the State’s Equine Resources and Han and Tang Prosperity



Shang Yongqi


The Han and Tang dynasties were important for the formation of the core identity and cohesion of the Chinese image, and were the two dynasties with the strongest influence and force in the ancient world of East Asia. The Western Han dynasty developed and improved the pedigree of the state’s equine resources in the course of opening up the Western Regions, thus improving Han’s mobility in the management of China’s borderlands and safeguarding the vast Han territories, and establishing the core cultural cohesion signified by the dynastic title “Han.” Following in the footsteps of the Qin, Han, and Northern Dynasties, the Tang dynasty gave full play to the geographical resources and technical advantages of north China’s vast steppes, which assisted in the prosperity and magnificence of the dynasty. Its sustained influence affected the development of its ancient neighbors and expanded the world influence of Chinese civilization and the Confucian culture circle. Han and Tang splendor was based on the strong projection of ancient China’s mature and abundant civilization, but another important, indeed indispensable, reason lay in the managerial capacity possessed by the dynasty and founded on the evolution of the state’s equine resources, resources that gave the Tang their high mobility. At the same time, the country’s famous horses were often used as symbolic markers in the construction of Han and Tang national images. A large number of Han stone carvings feature Han horses from the Western Regions’ “heavenly horses” pedigree, demonstrating the shaping of the national image and cultural identity of the Han dynasty; and images of the Tang horses descended from the Turkic line, represented by the “Six Steeds of Zhaoling” of the Tang Emperor Taizong, indicate the magnificence of the Tang dynasty.