Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information, including hours




Asian art

View More:


Equestrian figure

206 BCE-220 CE


Unknown Artist


This figure is distinguished by the extraordinary amount of bright, original pigment that remains. The sturdy horse stands foursquare. The soldier on his back wears armour over a short red tunic with a thick, white collar, a black border on the skirt, hair drawn up under a red helmet tied beneath the chin, and hands positioned and drilled to hold reins. Larger but stylistically similar figures, dated to the early Western Han, were unearthed in 1965 at Yangjiawen, near Xianyang, Shaanxi province.

The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.81.

'A pair of painted gray pottery figures of equestrian soldiers' 50.
Han dynasty

Compare the group of stylistically similar, but larger figures, dated to the early Western Han, unearthed in 1965 at Yangjiawan, near Xianyang, Shaanxi province. Burials containing large numbers of mounted cavalrymen and foot soldiers were found in the vicinity of the tombs of the first Han emperor, Gaozu, and the emperor Jingdi at Yangjiawan. See 'Wenwu', 1966, no.3, pl.1-4 and 'Wenwu', 1977, no.10, p.17. See, also, The Quest for Eternity, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1987, Catalogue, p. 105. fig. 15.'

Christie's New York, 'The Jingguantang Collection Part II: Fine and important Chinese Ceramics and works of art: New York, Thursday, March 20, 1997, Vauxhall Pre press London 1997

Asian Art Dept., AGNSW, March 1997.


Other Titles

Horse and rider

A painted grey pottery figure of an equestrian

Place where the work was made

Shaanxi Province China


206 BCE-220 CE

Media category


Materials used

painted grey earthenware


34.9 x 35.6 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1995


Not on display

Accession number



Where the work was made
Shaanxi Province

Referenced in 2 publications


Ann Macarthur, Inspirations - Art ideas for primary and middle years, Carlton South, 2004, cover (colour illus.), 8 (colour illus.). card 8

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Tomb Sculpture', Sydney, 2003, 81 (colour illus.).