Grave goods were an important status symbol in ancient China, so the affluent and important would be accompanied in their travels through the afterlife with numerous depictions of people, items and animals. Such terracotta figures were made for the service and entertainment of the owner, ensuring that their journey in the underworld was a happy one. Terracotta tomb attendants seemed to have first appeared during the Western Han Dynasty. However, it is during Tang China that the cultural tradition of displaying wealth in elite tombs reached its peak, with an increased production of terracotta statuettes. The skills of Tang artisans in working and glazing terracotta statuettes is testified in this beautiful example. The majority of Tang glazed figurines of court ladies are usually left with the faces unglazed, which would have been painted after firing, allowing more precise details.
Chinese Tang Terracotta Court Lady
A beautifully rendered Tang Dynasty court lady attendant, depicted wearing the traditional Tang Dynasty court attire, known as ruqun. The dress features flared sleeves and a long skirt, tied high to her chest, accentuating the lady’s slender figure when presented in profile. The court attendant is shown standing, with the right arm held to the chest, whilst the left arm rests by her body. This lady is presented with her hair arranged in an elegant high bun and wearing delicate make-up. Her facial features are emphasised in red and black pigments.
Period: Tang Dynasty
Provenance: From the collection of a West Country gentleman, formed in 1970s.
Condition: Extremely fine condition, with much of the original pigments till visible to the surface.