Six Steeds of Zhao Mausoleum

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The Six Steeds of Zhao Mausoleum at Xi'an Beilin Museum

The Six Steeds of Zhao Mausoleum (simplified Chinese: 昭陵六骏; traditional Chinese: 昭陵六駿; pinyin: Zhāolíng Liùjùn) are six Tang (618-907) Chinese stone reliefs of horses (1.7m x 2.0m each) which were located in the Zhao Mausoleum, Shaanxi, China. Zhao Mausoleum is the mausoleum of Emperor Taizong of Tang (r. 626-649).

The steeds were six precious war horses of Taizong, which he rode during the early campaigns to reunify China under the Tang, and all bear names which are not Chinese but rather transliterations of Turkic or Central Asian terms, indicative of the horses' probable origin as gifts or tributes from the Tujue to the Tang forces. They are:

  • Quanmaogua (拳毛騧), Taizong's steed during the campaign against Liu Heita.
  • Shifachi (什伐赤), ridden during the Battle of Hulao against Dou Jiande. Its name derives from the Turkic term Shad,
  • Baitiwu (白蹄乌), ridden during the campaign against Xue Rengao.
  • Telebiao (特勒骠), ridden during the campaign against Song Jingang. Its name is originally 特勤 Teqin, derived from the Turkic term Tegin.
  • Qingzhui (青骓), ridden during the campaign against Dou Jiande.
  • Saluzi (飒露紫), ridden during the campaign against Wang Shichong. Its name derives from the Turkic 'Isbara', itself a derivation from the Sanskrit 'Isvara' meaning prince.

The sculptures are regarded as ancient Chinese art treasures. They were stolen by smugglers from America in 1914 and two of them were successfully exfiltrated out. The stonework is exhibited in the Stele Forest museum of Xi'an (Shifachi, Baitiwu, Telebiao and Qingzhui) and the Penn Museum at the University of Pennsylvania, USA (Quanmaogua and Saluzi) separately.