A red-painted pottery figure of a standing horse

西汉    红彩陶立马俑

The well-proportioned horse stands four-square on slender legs with finely modelled hooves and fetlocks. The neck is held upright, supporting the head facing forwards with an alert expression, the ears pricked back, the eyes set beneath prominent brows, the nostrils flared, and the mouth open showing the teeth. The long furrowed back extends to the pronounced hindquarters, with a hole for fitting the detachable bound tail. The body and tail are painted a dusty red overall. The head is similarly red-painted, with the bridle and teeth picked out in white, the nostrils in red, and the pupils in black. The underside of the body has a small firing hole, showing the grey pottery.

Horses modelled using these conventions of anatomy and stance have been recovered, often with riders, from a number of excavations dating to the Western Han dynasty, most famously that at Yangjiawan, near Xianyang, Shaanxi province. They were not domestic animals, but served as war-horses in the cavalries built up during the Han dynasty to counter the nomadic tribes on China’s borders. The nomads, with their traditionally superior horsemanship, were a continual irritant to the settled Chinese.

Dimensions: Height: 54.5cm, 21 ½ inches

Date: Western Han dynasty (206BC – AD9)

Stock No. 836

Price: On Request