These figures are thought to represent the entertainers, who would have been present at the Han court. Similar examples have been found in graves of Sichuan provinces in south west China, and were likely a specialised form of local art.
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China (206 BC–220 AD), and its art is notable for aiming to give form to everyday people and objects. It was a period of significant economic growth, and this facilitated discovery and innovation: technical possibilities in the arts increased as a result, enabling artists to push boundaries. The art of the Han dynasty is largely decorative – a shift away from the functional, ritualistic art of the previous Qin dynasty.
To discover more about Chinese terracotta statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.