Tang ceramic production reached its peak with terracotta moulded zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures, known in Chinese as mingqi. Such statuettes would have been placed in Chinese graves, to assist, protect and entertain the deceased in the afterlife. Figures of musicians and dancers, as this fine pair, were especially popular, as they served to entertain the deceased in the after life. Dancing with long sleeve movements was well established by the Tang Dynasty, having been performed since the Zhou Dynasty. The long Sleeve Dance was especially popular, depicted in many images and sculptures and still surviving today. The art of dance in China reached a peak during the Tang Dynasty, which was the golden age of Chinese music and dance. Interestingly, from 730 AD with Tang Emperor Zuanzong, the way of representing courtiers and dancers radically changed towards figures more plump rather than slender. Emperor Zuanzong’s love for the concubine with ample curves, Yang Guifei, seems to have been at the origin of this change in representations of dancers and courtiers in Tang Dynasty art.
To discover more about Tang statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.