Domesticated armored tiger-bears
Nian are something like a cross between a tiger and a brown bear – very large, muscular, furred, with slightly larger forelegs than rear legs. They were domesticated by the Middle Kingdom for military use, but are still not beyond eating an incompetent handler.
Nian are huge war-mounts, domesticated from frightening highland predators long ago. They are approximately the size of a warhorse and twice as expensive to keep up.