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Tang Dynasty Tomb Figure of a Soldier
Item No. 1339

Tang Dynasty (618-907), N/A, China
9.5" x 2.5" x 2"
( 24.13 x 6.35 x 5.08 cm)
(H x W x D)

This miniature figurine represents a Tang male attendant with traces of its original painted pigment extant over a white slip. Such pieces were either fired with colored glazes or made with the edition of a white slip over the red clay to provide a smoothe and luminous surface on which colors could be more easily and effectively added. The figure stands with the right hand at the side and the left in a fist held at chest level. He wears the traditional deep sleeved jacket, tunic tied at the waist and cap of an attendant in the Tang court. The figure would probably have been placed in the tomb around a larger figure of an official with other male and female attendant figures to show both the power and importance of the official on earth and to assure his status in the nether world.

The Chinese practice of placing clay statues or “minqqi” in graves to assure the deceased would have in the afterworld all the material objects and personages they had on earth originated over 2000 years ago. During the Tang period the art of producing such sculptures reached its height, as figures became more elaborate and more sophisticated.

During the early Tang Dynasty, tomb figures were primarily images of animals and people who serviced as retainers and guardians to the deceased. Tang tombs after the eighth century changed from an emphasis on funerary traditions to include statues which depicted domestic life of the wealthy at the time: scenes of every day life, including, houses, gardens, domestic animals.

The pieces were produced by molds made of a least two parts which were luted together before the firing process. During the Tang era, molds were changed every few years so that statues could portray details of the latest fashions in clothing and hairstyles.

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