Tang Dynasty Pair of Dancers


An extremely fine and well-preserved matching pair of moulded terracotta slender and elegant female court attendants or dancers, dating to the Chinese Tang Dynasty. Each figure is portrayed standing, wearing a sumptuous tight-fitted court attire, and an elaborate coiffeur composed of a double-loop, coiled chignon. The up-turned cloud-toe shoes appear projecting beneath the flaring skirt. The raised fingers might indicate that the figures are presented mid dancing. Facial features are sensitively rendered, with eyes and eyebrows emphasized by black pigment, while lips and cheeks are painted in red, following the makeup trends of the Tang court. The original white, red and black pigments are still perfectly visible to the statuettes’ surface. Such colours would have been applied after firing, with the result that they would have been more prone to flaking. However, in this case, the original colours have preserved themselves extremely fine, maintaining part of their original brightness.

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

Date: Circa 618-906 AD
Period: Tang Dynasty
Condition: Extremely fine, complete and intact.This piece has been thermoluminescence tested at Laboratory Kotalla.

In stock

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.

Weight 10000 g
Dimensions H 55 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, The British Museum, item number 1917,1208.3

You may also like…