The ‘Fat Lady’ was a popular figure of the Tang Dynasty, a period which played host to enormous social, political and economic changes, and introduced a great deal of prosperity. The origins of depictions of ‘Fat Ladies’, with their full figures, elaborate loose robes and stylised hair, have been traced back to the imperial concubine Yang Gui Fei ( AD 719-756), who was beleieved to be one of the four great beauties of the Tang Dynasty and the most favoured concubine of Xuanzong emperor ( AD 712-756). Their chubby cheeks and full-bodied silhouettes characterise them as ‘Fat Ladies’ and their clothing and make up is designed to highlight these features, considered desirable at the time. ‘Fat Ladies’ have always been regarded as a precious and important source in studying the developments of women’s costume and aesthetic changes in different stages of the Tang Dynasty, and Chinese history in general, due to their potrayal of a beauty ideal unique to this period.
To discover more about Tang statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.