Tang Dynasty Musicians on Horseback



An extremely fine selection of Chinese Tang Dynasty moulded terracotta figurines of court musicians, each shown horseback, in a different stance while playing musical instruments, such as flutes, guitars and cymbals. The musicians are portrayed wearing the traditional Tang Dynasty court garments and hairstyle, while riding different coloured horses. The different colours of horses appear to have been of particular importance to the Tang emperors, whose favourite horses are described by their colouration. Each horse has been modelled in a naturalistic manner, with details of the anatomical features, harness and saddle emphasised in pigments. The figures of the riders and horses have been created using different moulds for the limbs, heads, and bodies. Such parts would have then been combined together after-firing, allowing the potter to create figures with unique and peculiar movements. The pigments would also have been applied after-firing. Usually this would have resulted with the colour being more prone to flaking; however, in this case, the original colours have preserved themselves extremely fine, maintaining their original brightness.

Pieces available: A, D, C.

N.B. This item will require additional postage charges after checkout due to weight and size. Please email us your selection, stating your favoured letter. We can accomodate a discount for purchase of pairs or selection of fours.

Date: Circa 618-906 AD
Period: Tang Dynasty
Condition: Excellent condition, with original pigments still visible. This piece has been thermoluminescence tested at Laboratory Kotalla.

In stock

SKU: FP-319 Category: Tags: ,

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 were especially popular, as they served to entertain the deceased in the afterlife. The art of dance in China reached a peak during the Tang Dynasty, which was the golden age of Chinese music and dance. The Great Music Bureau was set up to oversee the training and performances of music and dance in the imperial court, and the Drums and Pipes Bureau was responsible for ceremonial music.

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

Weight 5000 g
Dimensions L 40 x H 38 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum, item number 54.169

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