Song Dynasty Terracotta Tile with Musician and Marker’s Hand Prints

£ 650.00

A finely carved unglazed terracotta tile dating from the Song Dynasty. To the front, a musician sits beneath a florid frame, a common motif in Buddhist art, derived from the Indian chaitya arch. The man is portrayed in a naturalistic manner, with a plump face and delicate features, emphasised by the exceptional retention of the original pink, red, and yellow pigmentation. He wears the traditional court attire, the shenyi, comprised of a long belted robe with wide sleeves, which gently rests on the the man’s legs revealing the outline of his bent knees. He is perhaps sitting on a tall stool, as he plays his instrument to entertain his master. In his hands is a ‘pipa’ (琵琶), a traditional Chinese musical instrument sometimes referred to as the “Chinese lute”. The reverse displays the palm imprints of the potter, forming a personal mark equivalent to a manuscript signature.

N.B. This item will require additional postage charges after checkout due to weight and size.

Date: AD 960-1279
Period: Song Dynasty
Provenance: From a West Country, UK, collection; formerly in a Hong Kong collection formed 1970s-1990s.
Condition: Good condition, some flacking and chips to the surface and edges.

In stock

The Song Dynasty ruled China during one of its most brilliant and sophisticated cultural epochs, marking a high point for innovation in economy, science, engineering, and warfare. The Dynasty saw the introduction of the first banknotes and the first recorded chemical formula for gunpowder, as well as large-scale experimental architecture and a new intellectual interest in the arts. During this period, Buddhism waned in popularity as new philosophical schools of thought were introduced. The development of Neo-Confucianism and the re-emergence of Daoism reverberated through society, guiding it to ideals of balance and order. Buddhism, however, retained a strong influence over the arts, and many representation of Buddhist iconography can be found in the Song Dynasty extensive artistic production.

Sometimes potters and especially tile-makers of the Song period ‘signed’ their work by impressing one hand flat into the reverse. A whole tomb decorated with figural representation modified in this way was unearthed in Shanxi Province and reported in the western press in 2018, when it was revealed during renovations to a modern house built over the tomb.

Weight 5750 g
Dimensions L 29.5 x W 30 x H 3.7 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

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