These attendants are excellent examples of Ming Dynasty tomb pottery of this time. Terracotta moulded figures of people and animals were meant to be grave goods to be placed in tombs. It was believed that these figures would serve and assist the deceased in the afterlife. Figures of this type are called mingqi in Chinese, and usually depict servants, officials, soldiers, musicians, court attendants, dancers and, in the case of animals, horses and Bactrian camels. As in life, attendant figures are depicted standing nearby, waiting to fulfil the desires and needs of the deceased.
The Ming dynasty played host to some of China’s most renowned artistic achievements – famed, of course, for its vases, but also works such as Shen Zhou’s ‘Lofty Mount Lu’. The culture’s artistic explosion can be in part explained by the Ming dynasty’s economic success.