Grave goods were an important status symbol in ancient China, so the affluent and important 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.
To discover more about Chinese terracotta statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.