Exceptional Han Dynasty Court Attendant


An exceptional Chinese Han Dynasty hollow-moulded terracotta statue of a male court attendant, portrayed standing in a reverent pose, with both hands held below his 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 red and white undergarment, and richly decorated with a pattern of red and black brush strokes. Furthermore, the collar and cuffs of the vest feature a band of black and red dotted decoration, which also swirls around the lower part of the garment. The hair of the court attendant is arranged in long, low and loose ponytail down below the shoulders. Facial features, such as eyes and eyebrows, are rendered through delicate streaks of black paint, while the lips are painted in bright red. The original pink, red and black pigments would have been applied to the figure after firing, with the result that the paint would have been more prone to flaking. Such a well preserved example, with bright and vivid pigmentation, is a rarity.

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Date: Circa 202 BC-220 AD
Period: 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: Extremely fine, original pigmentation vivid and intact.


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. This statuette was likely a ‘mingqi’, a burial figurine, viewed as a sort of utensil for the afterlife, and usually depicting everyday objects and people, like dancers, court attendants, and servants. Mingqi figurines of dancers and musicians would have been placed in the tomb with the deceased to ensure company and entertainment.

To discover more about the Roger Moss Collection, visit our Provenance Collection Page.

Weight 5000 g
Dimensions H 50 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, see The Metropolitan Museum, item number 56.61.1

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