Hop on board as we continue our journey Around the World in 80 Models! We began our itinerary at Sketchfab headquarters in New York and are working our way through Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America, and North America. To catch up on past destinations, check out the rest of the Around the World in 80 Models series.
This week we meet up with Ruichuan Wu, graduate student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. He is developing a personal project of 3D heritage preservation called CloudAtlas.
Saluzi: Taizong Horse
My name is Ruichuan Wu, currently a graduate student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. My journey of 3D scanning started with my personal research project, CloudAtlas, a 3D archaeological database. Rather than laser scanning, I prefer photogrammetry because of its efficiency and flexibility. Spending just one hour in the museum and another hour at home, I used my Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR camera and desktop computer (Intel i5, 8GB RAM and GTX 960) to scan and generate the digital model. During the modeling process, I also received generous guidance and help from my department professor, Adam Smith, and the keeper of the Asian section at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, Stephen Lang.
The name of the horse in the model is Saluzi, meaning “autumn dew.” He was one of the six war horses of a Chinese emperor, Tang Taizong (r. 598-649), who spent much of his adult life in military campaigning and extended Chinese military power deeper into Asia than before. During a crucial battle, Saluzi was deadly shot but still fulfilled his duty until the final victory. The sculpture depicted the scene on the battleground where he stood calmly waiting for the arrow to be pulled from his flank. To honor his loyaltyand to memorialize his owner’s military achievements, Saluzi was carved into stone and later erected along the “spiritual path” leading to the emperor’s mausoleum.
Saluzi has stood there for over a thousand years, having witnessed not only the rise and fall of one after another brilliant dynasties in ancient China, but also a series of crucial historical events in the modern period. The vicissitudes of its fortune directly relates to the East Asian history from the chaotic period after the last Chinese imperial dynasty’s downfall (1911) onward. It was at one time possessed by Yuan Shikai (1859-1916), the first president of the Republic of China, who ordered the famous sculpture to be removed from its original location to his residence in Beijing. During the process, the famous sculpture was smashed into several pieces and could never be restored again. It soon fell into the hands of some antique dealers after the death of Yuan and was sold and shipped to the United States. When President Nixon was planning his meeting with leaders of the Chinese Communist government during the Cold War (1972), the return of Saluzi was once considered by the U.S. as a potential diplomatic gesture to show goodwill. In 1997, when Chairman Jiang Zemin visited the Penn Museum, the possibility of the return of Saluzi was again brought up.
The argument over the ownership of Saluzi has not stopped even till this day. The Chinese official voice claims that it was stolen and sold by unscrupulous antique dealers, but the Penn museum insists that it was legally purchased. While people disagree with each other because of their own political, diplomatic and commercial views, Saluzi, still standing under the lofty dome of the Chinese Rotunda at the Penn Museum, is not immediately accessible to everyone. I believe that by publishing and sharing the 3D model of this valuable piece of artwork on Sketchfab, it will actually help to put down our differences–however temporarily–and present Saluzi as a common cultural heritage of the human society to students, scholars, educators, and the general public from around the world.
To see more of Ruichuan Wu’s models here on Sketchfab, check out his profile!