Pair of Chinese Northern Wei Dynasty Painted Figurines

£ 350.00

A pair of two Chinese Northern Wei Dynasty hollow-moulded unglazed pottery figures depicting a male and a female court attendant. The female figure is portrayed standing, with her left hand resting on her slightly protruding belly. The dress she is wearing, possibly a shenyi  or ruqun, consists of a long vest, tied to the waist and long, flaring sleeves. The most distinctive element of Northern Wei dresses were the collars, which appears to be much wider and open at the top compared earlier examples. The figure displays a double-buns hairstyle and facial features appear emphasised in black paint. Northern Wei women enjoyed having their hair arranged in two buns,  in order to look slender and more elegant. A hole to the right hand suggests that the figurine might have originally held an incense stick. The male statuette is portrayed in a similar manner, standing and wearing the traditional court attire and court headpiece. Again, a hole to the right hand suggests that the figurine might have originally held an incense stick. The original pigments, still clearly visible here, would have been applied to the figure after firing, with the result that the paint would have been more prone to flaking.

Date: Circa 386-534 AD
Period: Northern Wei
Provenance: The C. Roger Moss OBE collection. The late C. Roger Moss OBE was a renowned art collector who, throughout the years, thanks to his determination and enthusiasm, was able to create an outstanding collection of artworks, most prominently from China and the Orient, but also from other cultures. His great love for ancient cultures and study for interesting and unusual artefacts informs his collection.
Condition: Very fine, some earthly encrustations on the surface. The female statuette has been repaired to the neck.

In stock

Since the Han Dynasty, it was common practice to bury terracotta miniature of utilitarian and ornamental objects with the deceased; such items are known as mingqi, “spirit utensils” or “vessels for ghosts”. Mingqi were offered to assist and help the deceased in the afterlife, and they would have been modelled in the shape of cooking utensils, miniature replicas of houses and temples, as well as a range of furniture and other items. Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic terracotta reproductions were popular too, designed to assist and entertain the deceased and to recreate the world of the living.

To discover more about the Roger Moss Collection, visit our Provenance Collection Page.

Weight 275 g
Dimensions H 16 cm


Pottery and Porcelain

Reference: For a similar item to our male statuette, The Metropolitan Museum, item 2007.220. and For a similar item to our female statuette, The Metropolitan Museum, item 28.106.4.

You may also like…