Figures of this type holding serpents appear to have been guardian figures placed at the entrance of Han tombs. One such figure found in a tomb east of Hualong Bridge, Chongqing in 1950, is illustrated in Kaogu tongxun, 1958:3, pp. 87-103, pl. IX:1.
A related figure was included in the exhibition, Ancient Sichuan: Treasures from a Lost Civilization, Seattle Art Museum, 2001, no. 118. See, also, an example missing its legs that was excavated in 1957 from the Huangshui Xiang'ai tomb, Shuangliu county, Sichuan province, and now in the Sichuan Provincial Museum, included in the exhibition, China: 5000 Years, Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1998, no. 98.
The result of Oxford Authentication Ltd. thermoluminescence test number C108u77 is consistent with the dating of this lot.