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 Tang statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.