Roof ridge tile, 1800-1900
In Asia, the roof, by virtue of its position on a building, is deemed a point of communication between heaven and earth. It is a bridge to the world of spirits and a platform for them to descend to earth. Chinese builders sought to harness auspicious spiritual forces and repel evil spirits with applied ornamentation freighted with symbolic meaning. On roofs the most common decoration was tiling. The Ming dynasty was a flourishing period for tile production. The roof tile on display is believed to be a horse, frequently one of a sequence of creatures shown on ridge tiles. It is one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac.
Accession register records that the object was originally on display on the windowsill in the Study.