Notice two weird features on the leopard below? Firstly, the beast has a cloven hoof. This I cannot explain! Secondly, it wears a harness of sorts--hardly routine on a jungle beast. To compound the mystery, lions and leopard, facing both left and right, can all be found wearing harnesses. This I can explain...
The three felines above all wear harnesses...and all can also be found as part of large chariot groups. Sometimes the chariot is pulled by two leopards, sometimes by two lions.
Chariot photographed from the stock of Elinor Penna.
As you can see, the lions pulling Elinor Penna's chariot are wearing harnesses. And leopards pulling chariots also wear harnesses. Apparently our potters used the molds for those chariot-pulling felines to also create freestanding leopards and lions. So now we know why those incongruous harnesses are in place.
Interestingly, all the harnessed leopard and lion models can be attributed to a single potbank, even though they vary in the bases and bocages used--in fact the bases and the bocages are the very features that enable us to link these figures into a 'family' of figures. Not surprisingly, the impressive chariot groups are also attributable to that very same potbank. Chariots must have been costly items to manufacture, and the molds for them were valuable commodities. Clearly, our mystery potbank put those leopard and lion molds to good use by creating free standing versions of these animals...even if they do appear rather oddly posed!
For the record, a lion model without a harness was also made by this potbank. That figure stands in a traditional pose, foot upon a ball.