A pair of amber-glazed pottery figures of saddled horses

十六國   褐黃釉陶鞍馬

Each horse is modelled standing square on a rectangular base, with the head raised and facing forwards. Disc-shaped bridle ornaments line the sides of the head, with a further disc on the top of the nose, between the deeply carved eyes and the flared nostrils and slightly open mouth with oval terminals to the bit. The ears are pricked, facing forwards, flanking the forelock dressed as a long tapering horn. The long mane is dressed to one side, with striations indicating the hair, pierced in the widest part by an aperture, presumably for the now-disintegrated reins. The saddle has high curved pommel and cantle, suggesting wood, with long rectangular saddle flaps, decorated at the tops with impressed cross-hatching and each with an attached toe-loop. The long tail falls straight down, striated to match the mane. A glaze of rich amber colour covers each horse overall, leaving the base unglazed showing the orangey-buff ware.

(Illustrated on the left) The Professor Conrad Harris Collection of Early Chinese Art
Berwald Oriental Art, 2003

Figures of horses of this rare and characterful early type, from the period 
between the fall of the Han dynasty and the reunification of northern China by the Northern Wei dynasty, show several characteristics that may be described as transitional. For example, the amber glaze that covers them was used briefly on pottery models of horses in the Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25-220), while the forelock dressed as a horn is a standard feature of pottery (and presumably real) horses of the Northern Wei (386-535) and Northern Qi (550-577) periods.

For two related examples, see Important Archaeological Discoveries in Connection with Infrastructure Developments in Shaanxi Province 2006-2010, p. 200.

Dimensions: Heights: 45.5 cm, 17 ⅞ inches

Date: Sixteen Kingdoms period (304-439)

Price: On Request