Tang Dynasty Female Horse Rider


An extremely fine and well-preserved moulded terracotta fat lady horse rider, dating to the Chinese Tang Dynasty. The figure is portrayed riding a naturalistically rendered horse which is standing on a rectangular base. The female court attendant is presented wearing the traditional Tang Dynasty court attire and elaborate coiffure consisting of a high bun. Facial features are sensitively rendered with eyes and eyebrows emphasised with black pigment while the 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 figure’s surfaces, especially on the horses eyes. Such colours would have been applied after firing resulting in the pieces being 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, with loss of pigments and signs of ageing to the surface. Minor repairs the the horse's neck and legs


The ‘Fat Lady’ was a popular figure of the Tang Dynasty, a period which played host to enormous social, political and economic changes, and introduced a great deal of prosperity.  The origin of depictions of ‘Fat Ladies’, with their full figures, elaborate loose robes and stylised hair, have been traced back to the imperial concubine Yang Gui Fei ( AD 719-756), who was believed to be one of the four great beauties of the Tang Dynasty and the most favoured concubine of the Xuanzong emperor ( AD 712-756). The forehead makeup known as ‘Huadian’ which adorns some Fat Lady figures was believed to have been inspired by the story of Princess Shouyang, whose beauty was enhanced by a plum blossom which fell onto her forehead, though others have suggested links with the thriving Buddhist culture of the period.

To discover more about Tang statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.

Weight 1450 g
Dimensions L 26 x H 34 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, seeThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Accession Number: 65.101.5

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