Horses (China)

Wolfgang Behr w.behr at EM.UNI-FRANKFURT.DE
Mon May 11 13:17:14 UTC 1998

At 14:04 10.05.98 +0100, Jan Houben wrote:

> Wasn't horse-culture in China strongly
> associated with "western people"?

Yes indeed. There is strong evidence, that the domesticated horse
first appeared in association with the chariot during the late Shang
period (i.e. 12th c. b.c.). The chariot is almost certainly a "Western"
cultural innovation. Cf. for textual & archaeological evidence

        Edward L. Shaughnessy
        "Historical Perspectives on the Introduction of the Chariot
        in China", Harvard J. of Asiatic Studies 48 (1988): 189-237

        "Western Cultural Innovations in China, 1200 b.c.",
        Sino-Platonic Papers 11 (1989), 8 pp.

The rather late appearance of the domesticated horse in China is in-
directly confirmed by Chinese mythology, which credits a certain Xiangtu
(OC *Sangtha:?), the  grandson of the founder of the Shang dynasty Xie
(ca. 1500 b.c.), with the first domestication of the horse. There might
have been an earlier domestication of an _equus genus_ in the far North-
East of what is now China, but it is by no means clear, if it was known
by Xia or Shang people in the central plains area. Cf.

        Stanley J. Olsen
        "The Early domestication of the Horse in North CHina",
        Archaeology 37 (1984) 1: 62-63, 77

As far as the introduction of the horse into Japan is concerned, I
would certainly be greatful for any up-to-date pointers myself. The
once famous theory of invading Altaic horseriders as the founders of
Japanese culture (for an English summary cf. G. Ledyard, "Gallopping
Along with the Horseriders: Looking for the Founders of Japan", J. of
Japanese Studies 1 (1975): 217-254), has apparently been totally debunked
by archaeologists during recent years. See, for instance,

        Walter Edwards
        "Event and process in the founding of Japan: The horserider
        theory in archeological perspective", J. of Japanese Studies
        2 (1983): 265-295

and, for a linguistic comment on the question,

        Roy A Miller, "Altaic Evidence for Prehistoric Incursions of
        Japan", Ural-Altaic Yearbook 58 (1986): 39-64

Cheers, Wolfgang

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