Chinese Han Dynasty Court Lady
An elegant Chinese Han Dynasty hollow-moulded terracotta statue of a female court attendant, portrayed standing in a reverent pose, with both of her hands held below her chest, and designed with typical Han Dynasty slender form. The figure is presented wearing the traditional Eastern Han Dynasty court attire, known as shenyi, consisting of a long vest, tied to the waist and long, flaring sleeves, here revealing a bright pink, red and brown undergarment. The hair of the court attendant is arranged in long, low ponytail down below the shoulders. Facial features, such as eyes and eyebrows, are rendered through a delicate black paint, while the lips are painted in bright red. The original pink, red and brown pigments would have been applied to the figure after firing, with the result that the paint would have been more prone to flaking.
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Circa 206 BC- 220 ADCondition:
Extremely fine, with original pigmentation visible to the surface.
In Ancient China, terracotta unglazed and low-fired glazed statuettes of animals and human figures, known in Chinese as mingqi, would have been placed in the deceased’s tomb to ensure companionship and service in the afterlife. Mingqi were usually modelled as an intimation of either common objects that once played a vital role in Han Dynasty domestic life, or as zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures that were closely related to the deceased when they were alive. Terracotta figures of court attendants, such as this fine example, were made for the service and entertainment of the owner, ensuring that their journey in the underworld was a happy one.
To discover more about Chinese terracotta statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.