This processional horse and rider are decorated with white, black and vermillion pigments. The rider's hands simulate the action of holding the reins. The figurine is 'mingqi' or burial ware that would have been part of a larger group of funerary items. The custom was an ancient one. It is thought these wares were necessary for the deceased in the next world. Elaborate groups of burial wares were also a display of wealth and social status.The importance of horses to the Chinese ruling classes can be seen in the large numbers of pottery sculptures that have been found in Chinese tombs. Apart from military use, the horse also played a central role in the long- distance trade over the Silk Road.