Removing the Saddle, Inspecting the Arrows

Artist: Traditionally attributed to Zhang Kan (傳)張戡 (active mid-10th century)
Calligrapher: Wu Rongguang 吳榮光 , colophon (1773-1843) Kong Guangtao 孔廣陶 , colophon (1832-1890)
Historical period(s)
Song dynasty, 12th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 120.7 x 46.4 cm (47 1/2 x 18 1/4 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

China, horse, Northern Song dynasty (960 - 1127)

To 1916
Pang Yuanji (1864-1949), Shanghai, China, to 1916 [1]

From 1916 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Pang Yuanji, through Pang Zanchen (1881-1951) and Seaouke Yue (You Xiaoxi) (late 19th-early 20th century), in New York, in 1916 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 1125, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. See also, P'ang Catalogue: Antique Famous Chinese Paintings Collected by P'ang Lai Ch'en, no. 13. This object exhibits seals, colophons, or inscriptions that could provide additional information regarding the object’s history; see Curatorial Remarks in the object record for further details.

[2] According to Ingrid Larsen, "'Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures': Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum," Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), pg. 23 and pg. 37, note 118. Larsen explains that Pang Zanchen (the younger brother of Pang Yuanji) and Seaouke Yue were tasked by Pang Yuanji with bringing his paintings to New York to show them to Charles Lang Freer. See also, Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 1125, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Pang Yuanji (C.L. Freer source) 1864-1949


This finely executed painting shows a grizzled cavalry warrior who has removed his armor and rests while he inspects his arrows. Glad to be rid of its saddle, his horse rolls on the ground, happily kicking its legs in the air. The horse has an incision in its ear, a practice followed by the Khitans. These seminomadic people lived on the northeastern border regions of the Northern Song (960-1127) empire in the general area of modern Manchuria, where they established their own Liao dynasty (907-1125).

The painting is attributed to Zhang Kan, a native of Waqiao (modern Xiongxian, Hebei Province), located near the Yan Mountains on the border of Liao territory. Zhang was particularly renowned for his accurate depictions of his nomadic neighbors and their horses. As seen here, his paintings are enlivened with a close attention to detail, such as the notched ear of the horse and the dress and armaments of the warrior. While none of Zhang's original paintings has survived, this work exhibits the features most closely associated with his style and may be a slightly later copy of a genuine composition by Zhang.

A rare official seal from the Northern Song dynasty in the upper right corner helps to date this painting to the late eleventh or early twelfth century. This seal, which reads Shangshusheng yin (seal of the imperial secretariat), was only employed from around 1083 to 1126 on paintings and calligraphy belonging to the imperial collection of the Northern Song dynasty.


To learn more about this and similar objects, visit Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy.

Published References
  • Song Dynasty Paintings Project. multi-volumed, . .
  • Pang Yuanji. Tang Wu dai Song Yuan ming hua: Wuxing Pang shi cang [Antique Famous Chinese Paintings: Collected by P'ang Lai Ch'en]. Shanghai. pl. 13.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.