Evolution and function of the Chinese carved horse hitching stone post

  • Ke Bai Shaanxi Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage
Keywords: horse hitching post; wards off equine plague; Bi-ma-we; evolution; functions changing

Abstract


This article focuses on a typical artefact in Mainland China: carved stone horse hitching posts and their distribution, history, types, and cultural meaning. It tries to interpret their evolution and the relationship between their functional and social change. This type of post was made exclusively for tying horses, from the Han Dynasty to the Yuan Dynasty (approximately 1st-13th century CE). Initially, posts were a practical tool used for simply tying horses, with no added symbolism. Later, the stone posts were carved with many decorative patterns. In the 1980’s, tens of thousands of stone posts were rediscovered next to gates of rural residential houses and seldom in cities. Both archaeologists and artists try to organize this sequence and interpret the symbolism. Patterns used on the posts, originating from fairy tales, religion and life, have different meanings. Nowadays because of the beautiful patterns and implied meaning, the posts were transported to cities and collected by museums, universities, parks and artefact shops. A collection of stone posts was put together and merged into the roadside landscape. The posts are treated as an antiquity and as a symbol of culture, art and taste. The function and symbolism of Chinese carved stone hitching post changed with the development of agriculture and transportation. Some of its original functions vanished, and the value changed from a practical implement to a standard of wealth, good taste and culture.

Author Biography

Ke Bai, Shaanxi Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage

Shaanxi Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage
Key Scientific Research Base of Stone and Brick Conservation
NO.35, Keji 1 Road
Gaoxin District
Xi’an
Shaanxi
China

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Published
15-Dec-2020
How to Cite
Bai, K. (2020). Evolution and function of the Chinese carved horse hitching stone post. Journal of Lithic Studies, 7(3), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.3077
Section
Articles from the 2nd Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research