The result of the Oxford Authentication Ltd. thermoluminescence test no. N114k30 is consistent with the dating of this lot.
This haniwa horse was excavated in the 1950s in the Namegata region, Ibaraki prefecture.
Haniwa of armoured warriors and horses of the 5th century AD indicate the military power of the ancestors of the Imperial line and show that the horse must have played a major role in the unification struggles and the rise of the Yamato clan. Interestingly the Kojiki records that a pair of horses was sent as a gift from Korea to the Emperor Ojin (c. 300) together with Korean grooms. Although archaeology tells us that there were wild horses in Japan long before the Kofun period, it is believed that they were never previously domesticated. That horses and riding accoutrements were brought from China and Korea around the end of the 4th and beginning of the 5th century is attested by tomb contents which include both imported objects and objects made in Japan virtually identical to those found in Korean mounds of the same period. Representations of haniwa of horses are often found sculpted in such detail as to enable the positive identification of metal fragments of horse trappings found buried in the stone chambers of some tombs.
The celebrated haniwa of a caparisoned horse in the collection of the Tokyo National Museum which was recorded by Gowland has since been enhanced with the addition of formerly missing parts of the harness, mane and tail. Now restored to its original condition it can be seen as a close relative of this fine haniwa here. The importance of the horse to the early Yamato Emperors ensured that it would forever be associated with the Shinto pantheon, and to this day a pair of horses, a black and a grey of pure white, are kept in the shrine of the Sun Goddess at Ise, reflecting the events of fifteen hundred years ago, and thus preserving the grand scheme of the gods as portrayed in the early unification myths.
Similar examples with a saddle are in the collection of Tokyo National Museum, www.tnm.jp, reference number J-838 (Important Cultural Property), J-5769, J-20684, J-21154, J-36736.
For further examples, see:
Junkichi Mayuyama ed., Japanese Art in the West, (Tokyo, 1966), no. 430 (Musée Guimet, France), no. 431 (The Art Gallery, Indiana University, USA) and no. 432 (The Art Institute of Chicago, USA)
Another example sold at Christie’s London, Asobi: Ingenious Creativity, 15th October 2013, lot 4.