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1340

Tang Dynasty Tomb Figure of a Female Attendant
Item No. 1340

Tang Dynasty (618-907), N/A, China
Earthenware
7" x 2" x 1.25"
( 17.78 x 5.08 x 3.175 cm)
(H x W x D)

This figurine represents a Tang female attendant with much of its original painted pigment on white slip extant. The figure is standing with hands clasped to the chest wearing the traditional deep sleeved jacket of the Tang Dynasty court with the hair piled on the top of the head in a chignon. The figure would have been placed 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 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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