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. The skills of Tang artisans in working and glazing terracotta statuettes is testified in this beautiful example. The majority of Tang glazed figurines of court ladies have been usually left with the faces unglazed, which would have been painted after firing, allowing more precise details. In this case, however, the figurine’s neatly glazed facial features qualify this artefact as a rare find among its numerous counterparts.
To discover more about Tang statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.