Imperial China was the first exhibition ever to explore the role of the horse in more than 3,000 years of Chinese history and culture. Far more than just an equestrian history, more than 350 artifacts not only illuminated the horse's significance in art, warfare, leisure activities and sport, but also showed how this interaction affected the overall culture
Beginning with the Western Zhou Dynasty (1027-771 BC), and covering all subsequent dynasties through the Qing (1644-1911), the world exclusive exhibition contained many artifacts never before seen outside of China. All of the art and artifacts was selected from the collections of museums throughout Shaanxi Province, capital of China for more than a millennium, and home of the terra cotta army of China's first emperor.
- Two Chariots from the Western Zhou and Western Han dynasties (206 BC-9 AD) that were restored specifically for Imperial China. The bronze Han chariot is elaborately inlaid with original gold fittings.
- An outstanding selection of Western Zhou bronze artifacts depicting both items used in everyday life and in the equestrian culture of the time.
- 12 life-size figures from the terra cotta army of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. A complete war chariot, including four horses, driver and two flanking guards, have been reassembled and are presented to visitors. Also included from this period is a cavalry soldier leading a horse, one of the Emperor's stable boys, a kneeling archer and one of the army's seven generals.
- Many jade, gold, and terra cotta figures representing the Han Dynasty.
- One of the largest collection of the Tang Dynasty's (618-907 AD) world famous tri-colored equestrian figures ever shown outside of China.
- A representative collection of gold, jade, terra cotta and porcelain figures from all dynasties from the Tang to the fall of the last Imperial court in 1911.
- Number of artifacts: 358
- Value of artifacts: Approximately $100,000,000.
- The significance of the horse in the unification of China.
- Exchanges of equestrian culture with the western world via the Silk Road.
- Mystical significance of the horse in ancient Chinese culture
- Significant Chinese advancements in horse harnessing and accouterments.
- The horse in Chinese art.
- The use of the horse in leisure activities during the Tang Dynasty. Topics include the "Emperor's dancing horse", hunting from horseback, and the introduction of polo to China.
- The Mongol influence on Chinese equestrian culture.
The Imperial China educational program was generously sponsored in part by a grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation