"Each part of the world recapitulates, shares in and experiences the history of the world as a whole"
Fernand Braudel

Horseman of Raqqa

datation
9th century AD
provenance
Raqqa
area
period
materials
themes

This ceramic statue represents a knight on horseback. His facial features are Central Asian, with slanting eyes. He wears a pointed hat and his hair is a long braid down his back. The knight rides a well-worn horse and holds a shield repelling a snake that is slithering up the horse’s leg and bearing its teeth. In his right hand, the knight holds up a sword in order to cut off the head of the snake. Below the horse’s belly is a fluted cylindrical column which serves to support the sculpture. The saddle and the bridle are ornamented with blue points painted on a relief surface. The colors used to decorate this statue include reddish brown, blue, dark blue and green on a beige bed under a transparent glaze.

This object was found ornamenting one of the Abbasid basins in the city of Raqqa. From the features of the face, hair style, and dress it seems that this warrior is from Central Asia, as even the form of the sword does not belong to this region. As for the industry of the object, the material reveals that it was locally made in Raqqa, even though it reflects a clear impact with Asian characters and mythology.

Raqqa in the Abbasid age was a famous city and it was inhabited by the Khorasanean army of the Abbasid caliphate. The policy of recruiting Central Asian warriors into the Abbasid military was an order issued by the Caliph Abu Ja'afar al-Mansur was also the ruler who founded many new cities for the Abbasid state, including Al-Rafiqa, the neighbor of Raqqa, which he founded in 155 H (771 AD).

see also