Last updated
Flying Horse, East Han Dynasty.Bronze. Gansu Provincial Museum. Gansu Museum 2007 257.jpg
Flying Horse, East Han Dynasty.Bronze. Gansu Provincial Museum.

Tianma (天馬Tiānmǎ, "heavenly horse") was a winged flying horse in Chinese folklore. It was sometimes depicted with chimerical features such as dragon scales and was at times attributed the ability to sweat blood, possibly inspired by the parasite Parafilaria multipapillosa (Schafer, 295 note 19), which infected the highly sought-after Ferghana horse (大宛馬), sometimes conflated with Tianma.

In the Western Zhou Empire, Tianma referred to a constellation. [1] Tianma is also associated with the Han dynasty emperor Wudi, an aficionado of the Central Asian horse, [2] and the famous poet Li Bo. [3] The bronze statue Gansu Flying Horse is a well-known example.

See also

Related Research Articles

Xianbei Ancient people in Manchuria and Mongolia

The Xianbei were an ancient nomadic people that once resided in the eastern Eurasian steppes in what is today Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Northeastern China. They originated from the Donghu people who splintered into the Wuhuan and Xianbei when they were defeated by the Xiongnu at the end of the 3rd century BC. The Xianbei were largely subordinate to larger nomadic powers and the Han dynasty until they gained prominence in 87 AD by killing the Xiongnu chanyu Youliu. However unlike the Xiongnu, the Xianbei political structure lacked the organization to pose a concerted challenge to the Chinese for most of their time as a nomadic people.

Hui people Ethnic group of China

The Hui people are an East Asian ethnoreligious group predominantly composed of Chinese speaking adherents of Islam distributed throughout China, mainly in the northwestern provinces of the country and the Zhongyuan region. According to the 2011 census, China is home to approximately 20 million Hui people, the majority of whom are Chinese-speaking practitioners of Islam, though some may practise other religions. The 110,000 Dungan people of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are also considered part of the Hui ethnicity.

Qin Er Shi emperor of the Qin Dynasty

Qin Er Shi was the son of Qin Shi Huang and the second emperor of China's Qin dynasty. He ruled from 210 to 207 BCE.

Li, also known as the Chinese mile, is a traditional Chinese unit of distance. The li has varied considerably over time but was usually about one third of an English mile and now has a standardized length of a half-kilometer. This is then divided into 1,500 chi or "Chinese feet".

When a white horse is not a horse is a famous paradox in Chinese philosophy. Around 300 BC, Gongsun Long wrote this dialectic analysis of the question "Can one legitimately assert 'white horse is not horse'?", in a work now named for him, Gongsun Longzi, in a segment called the "White Horse Dialog".

Dian Kingdom former country

Dian was an ancient kingdom established by the Dian people, a group of indigenous non-Chinese metalworking tribes that inhabited around the Dian Lake plateau of central northern Yunnan, China from the late Spring and Autumn period until the Eastern Han dynasty. The Dian buried their dead in vertical pit graves. The Dian language was likely one of the Tibeto-Burman languages. The Dian were gradually displaced and assimilated into Han Chinese culture as the Han dynasty expanded towards what is now Yunnan. The Han Empire's annexation of the Dian Kingdom in 109 BC eventually led to the establishment of the Yizhou commandery.

Horse worship

Horse worship is a spiritual practice with archaeological evidence of its existence during the Iron Age and, in some places, as far back as the Bronze Age. The horse was seen as divine, as a sacred animal associated with a particular deity, or as a totem animal impersonating the king or warrior. Horse cults and horse sacrifice were originally a feature of Eurasian nomad cultures. While horse worship has been almost exclusively associated with Indo-European culture, by the Early Middle Ages it was also adopted by Turkic peoples.

Ma (surname) Surname list

Ma is a Chinese family name. The surname literally means "horse". As of 2006, it ranks as the 14th most common Chinese surname in Mainland China and the most common surname within the Chinese Muslim community, specifically the Hui people, Dongxiang people and Salar people. In 2019 it was the 13th most common surname in Mainland China. A 2013 study found it to be the 13th most common, shared by 17,200,000 people or 1.290% of the population, with the province with the most being Henan. It is the 52nd name on the Hundred Family Surnames poem.

Touman Chanyu

Touman, Teoman, or T'u-man, is the earliest named Xiongnu chanyu (匈奴單于), reigning from c. 220–209 BCE.

Chinese swords weapon

Historically, all Chinese swords are classified into two types, jian and dao. Jians are double-edged straight swords while daos are single-edged, and mostly curved from the Song dynasty forward. The jian has been translated at times as a long sword, and the dao a saber or a knife. Bronze jians appeared during the mid-third century BC and switched to wrought iron and steel during the late Warring States period. Other than specialized weapons like the Divided Dao, Chinese swords are usually 70–110 cm (28–43 in) in length, although longer swords have been found on occasion. Outside of China, Chinese swords were also used in Japan from the third to the sixth century AD, but were replaced with Korean and native Japanese swords by the middle Heian era.

Ferghana horse horse breed

Ferghana horse were one of China's earliest major imports, originating in an area in Central Asia. These horses, as depicted in Tang dynasty tomb figures in earthenware, "resemble the animals on the golden medal of Eucratides, King of Bactria ."

<i>Longma</i> winged horse with dragon scales in Chinese mythology

The longma is a fabled winged horse with dragon scales in Chinese mythology. Seeing a longma was an omen of a legendary sage-ruler, particularly one of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors.

Qiang (historical people) Ethnic group mentioned in ancient Chinese history

Qiang was a name given to various groups of people at different periods in ancient China. The Qiang people are generally thought to have been of Tibeto-Burman origin, though there are other theories.

Kunlun (mythology) mountain in Chinese mythology

The Kunlun or Kunlun Shan is a mountain or mountain range in Chinese mythology, an important symbol representing the axis mundi and divinity.

Bole (Po-le; simplified Chinese: 伯乐; traditional Chinese: 伯樂; pinyin: Bólè; Wade–Giles: Po2-le4) or Bo Le was a horse tamer in Spring and Autumn period, and the honorific name of Sun Yang (simplified Chinese: 孙阳; traditional Chinese: 孫陽; pinyin: Sūn Yáng; Wade–Giles: Sun1 Yang2), who was a retainer of Duke Mu of Qin (r. 659-621 BCE) and a famous judge of horses. Bole was the legendary inventor of equine physiognomy ("judging a horse's qualities from appearance").

Sima is an official post from ancient China that first appears in texts dating from the Western Zhou dynasty and continued to be used during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period. Translated literally, it means "administrator of the horses." Owing to the fact that the power and responsibilities associated with the office changed somewhat throughout Chinese history, a variety of English translations for the term have been suggested. The textually closest equivalent is Master of the Horse. Other English terms such as 'marshal' and 'major' have also been suggested, and may be appropriate in different contexts: for example 'marshal' may be appropriate in the Western Han dynasty, when "Grand Sima" was a title granted to high generals, while 'major' may be appropriate as the translation for the lower military position also called "Sima" from the Wei dynasty to the Song dynasty.

Horse in Chinese mythology

Horses are an important motif in Chinese mythology. There are many myths about horses or horse-like beings, including the pony. Chinese mythology refers to those myths found in the historical geographic area of China. This includes myths in Chinese and other languages, as transmitted by Han Chinese as well as other ethnic groups. There are various motifs of horses in Chinese mythology. In some cases the focus is on a horse or horses as the protagonist of the action, in other cases they appear in a supporting role, sometimes as the locomotive power propelling a chariot and its occupant(s). According to a cyclical Chinese calendar system, the time period of 31 January 2014 - 18 February 2015 falls under the category of the (yang) Wood Horse.

<i>Flying Horse of Gansu</i> Chinese bronze sculpture

The Flying Horse of Gansu, also known as the Bronze Running Horse (銅奔馬) or the Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow (馬踏飛燕), is a Chinese bronze sculpture from circa the 2nd century CE. Discovered in 1969 near the city of Wuwei, in the province of Gansu, it is now in the Gansu Provincial Museum. "Perfectly balanced," says one authority, "on the one hoof which rests without pressure on a flying swallow, it is a remarkable example of three-dimensional form and of animal portraiture with the head vividly expressing mettlesome vigor."

Sky Horse is a ballistic missile developed secretly by Taiwan in the late 1970s, with a considerable number being produced.

Horse coin Numismatic amulet

Horse coins, alternatively dama qian (打馬錢), are a type of Chinese numismatic charm that originated in the Song dynasty presumably as gambling tokens although many literary figures wrote about these coins their usage has always been failed to be mentioned by them, most horse coins tend to be round coins 3 centimeters in diameter with a circular or square hole in the middle of the coin. The horses featured on horse coins are depicted in various positions such as lying on the ground sleep, turning their head while neighing, or galloping forward with their tails rising high. it is currently unknown how horse coins were actually used though it is speculated that Chinese horse coins were actually used as game board pieces or gambling counters. Horse coins are most often manufactured from copper or bronze, but in a few documented cases they may also be made from animal horns or ivory. The horse coins produced during the Song dynasty are considered to be those of the best quality and craftsmanship and tend be made from better metal than the horse coins produced after. Some horse coins would feature the name of the famous horses they depicted. It is estimated that there are over three hundred variants of the horse coin. Some horse coins contained only an image of a horse while others also included an image of the rider and others had inscriptions which identify the horse or rider. During the beginning of the year of the horse in 2002 Chinese researchers Jian Ning and Wang Liyan of the National Museum of Chinese History wrote articles on horse coins the "China Cultural Relics Newspaper", the researchers noted that they found it a pity that the holes in the coins covered the saddles of the horses as this could've revealed more about ancient horse culture. Horse coins from the Song dynasty are the horse coins that are produced at the highest quality while horse coins from subsequent dynasties tend to be inferior compared to them.


  1. Rutt, Richard (2002). The book of changes (Zhouyi): a Bronze Age document. Routledge. p. 331. ISBN   0-7007-1491-X.
  2. Kuwayama, George (1997). Chinese ceramics in colonial Mexico. University of Hawaii Press. p. 32. ISBN   0-87587-179-8.
  3. Wong, Laurence (2019). Thus Burst Hippocrene: Studies in the Olympian Imagination. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 269. ISBN   9781527526150.