Terracotta figure of a male polo player, Chine, Tang Dynasty, 618-906 A.D.
A round sculpture made of terracotta and decorated with reddish and cream engobes. This is an excellent example of a Tang polo player, considering that the usual depictions were of women rather than men. The polo player wears a Turkic-Mongol headdress while the horse is depicted leaping.
Polo is believed to have originated in early modern times in Central Asia. It was part of the entertainment of the Sassanid court and was also practised on the Indian frontiers. In 630 AD, the Tang began their great westward expansion by turning Chang’an (Xian) on the Silk Road into a cosmopolitan capital. The introduction of polo to China dates from this time. Under the Tang dynasty, polo was a sport played mainly by the aristocracy and especially by women, despite its roughness.