Sancai horses of this rare type are distinguished by their realistically modeled manes, the foliate-based 'metal' trappings and simulated-fur saddle blankets. A comparable figure was included in the Min Chu Society exhibition of Ancient Chinese Ceramics, Hong Kong, 1980, no. 13. For other similar figures see E. Schloss, Ancient Chinese Ceramic Sculpture, Stamford, Connecticut, 1977, vol. II, col. pl. V; Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. I, pl. 202; Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collections, Tokyo, 1982, vol. 1, Tokyo National Museum, col. pl. 64; M. Prodan, The Art of the T'ang Potter, New York, 1960, col. pl. 1, in the Count Cesore Cicogna Collection; and Kaogu, 1972, no. 3, pl. 8, fig. 2, from Henan.
Foliate-derived plaques rather than tassel trappings appear in a variety of forms and multiples. The present type has been labeled 'hazel-leaf' or 'apricot-leaf'. For actual examples of similar gilt-bronze ornaments from the tomb of Princess Yongtai, buried in AD 706, see Mino and Robinson, Beauty and Tranquility: The Eli Lilly Collection of Chinese Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1983, pl. 61, fig. E; Eskenazi, Tang, June 9 - July 3, 1987, no. 10, for an equestrian design; and the line drawings in Wenwu, 1981, no. 10, p. 85, figs. 1-8.
The result of Oxford thermoluminescence test no. 866b45 is consistent with the dating of this lot.