Han Head Of A Servant


A hollow-moulded terracotta head of a servant from a larger statue. Traces of original black pigment showing the facial features and hair remain over the white slip .

Date: Circa 206 BC - 220 AD
Period: Han Dynasty
Condition: Fine condition; traces of original pigment still visible.


Statues of this kind were placed in the tombs of the wealthy, and reflect ancient desire for the kind of afterlife in which worldly pleasures and activities could continue to be enjoyed. The models (known as spirit goods, or ‘mingqi‘) depicted attendants, entertainers, pets, domestic animals, and a host of worldly goods. Tomb furnishings were an indication as to the wealth, status, and interests of the deceased, whilst equipping tombs with such items was often understood to be an act of homage by the deceased’s family and descendants.

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.
Weight 700 g
Dimensions H 12.5 cm

Pottery and Porcelain



Reference: Department of Asian Art. “Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–220 A.D.).” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–.http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/hand/hd_hand.htm (October 2000)

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