Eastern Han Dynasty Terracotta Statuette of a Merchant


A terracotta figurine of a male merchant dating to the Eastern Han Dynasty. He is portrayed in a standing pose and wearing the qujupao (曲裾袍), a traditional Han Dynasty dress comprising of a mid-length outer garment with wide sleeves and a tapering hem. His head is slightly tilted to the left, as he sustains the weight of a large container on his right shoulder and holds a smaller one with his left hand, kept straight to his side. Faint remnants of his facial features are still visible: a prominent nose and plump cheeks, which raise slightly behind the man’s serene smile.

Date: AD 25 - 220
Period: Eastern Han Dynasty
Provenance: The C. Roger Moss OBE collection. The late C. Roger Moss OBE was a renowned art collector who, throughout the years, thanks to his determination and enthusiasm, was able to create an outstanding collection of artworks, most prominently from China and the Orient, but also from other cultures.
Condition: Good condition with some retention of the original pigmentation. A crack around the neck and at the back of the top container; a minor crack on the side of the right leg. Earthy encrustations remain on the surface.

In stock

The Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220) was afflicted by political conflicts and social turmoil towards the end of its imperial power; yet, it showed great adherence to early imperial Chinese traditions and stylistic features in its artistic production. Both the quantity and quality of ancient Chinese terracotta figurines reached their peak in the Han Dynasty. During this period, a wide variety of terracotta figurines, reflecting different identities and services, were finely executed in great detail, and then placed in burials. Ostentatiously displaying such goods, known as mingqi (冥器) in Chinese, inside the tombs was not only to embellish funeral offerings, but also to further their services to the tomb owners in the afterlife.

The Han Dynasty was defined by an unprecedented growth of industry and population, which led to the establishment of a vast trading system, including the Silk Road. Merchants became an increasingly powerful social class, with some of the wealthiest individuals attaining roles in the government. Under Emperor Wu, however, the economic influence of wealthy merchants was significantly reduced, declassing them to a low-rank social status.

To learn about Han statuettes and the Roger Moss collection, please visit our relevant blog posts: Terracotta Tomb Attendants and Provenance Collection Page.

Weight 277 g
Dimensions W 7 x H 14.8 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

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