Sui Dynasty Polychromic Statuette of a Female Parade Musician on Horse


A finely moulded terracotta Sui female figurine depicted as a court musician riding a horse while playing a musical instrument that resembles a Xun ( 埙 in Chinese, an ancient Chinese music instrument, featuring a globular body). She is presented wearing a white-pigmented sleeveless coat, known as a beizi. The long white coat reveals green-pigmented, flaring sleeves from her inner attire. Her beizi is sculpted with triangular-shaped openings at the bottom in low relief on both sides, exposing the vivid-green pigment. The fringe of her beizi is portrayed by multiple vertical incisions, symbolising the fabric’s folds. She is presented wearing an iconic Sui-styled coiffure, where her hair is parted in the middle and neatly drawn up into a loop-shaped headdress. Her facial features are emphasised by black and red pigments. The horse is portrayed standing on a rectangular stand, with mane and facial features clearly expressed in black pigments and further incisions.


Date: Circa 581-618 AD
Period: Sui Dynasty
Condition: Very fine condition, the original pigments remain largely visible to the surface, slightly covered with light earthy encrustation.


Grave goods were an important status symbol in ancient China, therefore important representations would be accompanied in their travels through the afterlife with numerous depictions of people, items and animals. Such terracotta figures were made for the service and entertainment of the owner, ensuring that their journey in the underworld was a happy one. Terracotta tomb attendants seemed to have first appeared during the Western Han Dynasty. However, it is during Tang China that the cultural tradition of displaying wealth in elite tombs reached its peak, with an increased production of terracotta statuettes, such as this fine example. Interestingly, the attire worn by the figure, known in Ancient China as beizi, was worn by both men and women during the Sui and Tang Dynasties, while the hairstyle is typical of court ladies.

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Weight 2500 g
Dimensions W 30.2 x H 34.8 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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