Tang Dynasty Court Lady Figurine
A finely sculpted terracotta Tang court lady presented seated in a relaxed and elegant stance upon a large, rounded stool. The lady displays characteristics of what was thought as the ideal beauty during the Tang Dynasty. She is portrayed wearing a long robe known as a Qixiong Ruqun (齐胸襦裙, a garment including a skirt with the waistband above the breast and an upper garment stuck inside), a symbolic clothing style during the Tang Dynasty. The garment falls to her feet with detailed pleats showing the folds in the loose fabric. It is embellished with the colours blue, yellow, green, and red which are still visible to the surface. The lady’s hair is gathered into Cong Ji (丛髻, the cluster coiffure), which was popular in the mid to late Tang Dynasty. Her full cheeks are painted with a light rouge-coloured pigment, and her lips in bright red. She holds a circular object, with an incised ring, painted in red pigment in her right hand. The hand has been repaired at the wrist and at the joining of the object to the hand. The left hand is raised in an elegant gesture next to the other. The figure’s shoes, Gaotou Lv (翘头履, the shoes with the heads standing), was another popular style in Tang Dynasty among both women and men, and would help prevent stepping on long garments. The heads of these shoes are decorated with floral patterns.
Circa AD 618 - 907Period:
Ex West Country Collection, UK, 1990's.Condition:
Good Condition. Paint faded from age, some signs of wear and some mild earthly encrustations. Repair to right wrist and attachment of the object.
The Tang era is heralded as a golden age in Chinese history. It witnessed the prosperity of culture, economy, diplomacy and politics under a unified government. Stability within China led to an expansion of foreigners entering and living within the country, bringing with them their own cultural and social habits. With the introduction of different cultures, a new movement was ushered in. People were open to new ideas and beliefs, integrating and learning from new cultures. Normal class and social boundaries were dispelled with. Art was a particular genre that flourished with this new prosperity. Like other areas of the Chinese world, Tang art was influenced by the influx of new ideas and cultures.The emergence of the ‘Court Fat Lady’ as a popular image of Chinese identity first made its appearance under the Zhou Dynasty, which briefly interrupted the Tang Dynasty. Women were thought to have been liberated during this era. The Tang Dynasty saw one of the most female influenced political periods within Chinese history. The aspect of new culture and ideas influenced art and fashions. Fat Lady figures represented the tang beauty standards, the fashion of court robes were changed to adapt to the more fuller figure rather than the previous standard of slimmer body types. These figures are thought to have been decorative and funerary items. These statues have been interpreted as a celebration of female beauty.
For more information on Tang Dynasty Fat Women, please see our blog post: The Importance of the Fat Lady in Chinese Tang Art