The result of Oxford Authentication Ltd thermoluminescence test, no. C98b88, is consistent with the dating of this lot.
Large horses of this type have been found in a number of tombs within the Han empire. Among the most famous are those from the graves of the well-known Han dynasty minister Zhou Bo and his son excavated at Yangjiawan, Xianyang, Shaanxi province; see Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Quest for Eternity, Thames and Hudson, 1987, Catalogue, nos.11-15. A large prancing horse was excavated from a rock-face tomb at Majiashan, Xinduxian, Sichuan province, see Wenwu ziliao congkan, 1985, no.9, pl.vi-5. In addition to the well-sculpted head, flaring nostrils and upwardly-curling top lip characteristic of these Han horses, typified by the large bronze horse excavated at Hejiashan, Jinyang, Sichuan province and recorded in Wenwu, 1991, no.3, p.9, pl.iii, the current example is particularly unusual in that it is modelled with its saddle.
A very similar horse, without its saddle, but of even larger size, was sold in these Rooms, 1 December 1997, lot 171; another, somewhat smaller, was sold in our New York Rooms, 4 June 1992, lot 208; and two others, in a prancing stance, were sold in the same Rooms, 3 June 1993, lot 159 and 2 December 1993, lot 213.