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HOME : Chinese Art : Tang Fat Ladies : T'ang Sculpture of a Lady-in-Waiting
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T'ang Sculpture of a Lady-in-Waiting - H.746
Origin: China
Circa: 618 AD to 906 AD
Dimensions: 15.5" (39.4cm) high
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Painted Terracotta


Location: United States
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Description
During the Tang Dynasty, restrictions were placed on the number of objects that could be included in tombs, an amount determined by an individual's social rank. In spite of the limitations, a striking variety of tomb furnishings, known as mingqi, have been excavated. Entire retinues of ceramic figures - animals, entertainers, musicians, guardians - were buried with the dead in order to provide for the afterlife. Of the various types of mingqi, there is perhaps none more charming than the beautiful sculptures of elegant female courtiers. These gorgeous women reflect the appreciation of the female form during the T’ang Dynasty. This sophisticated woman provided eternal companionship for her lord throughout the afterlife. We can imagine her gracefully dancing or singing a poetical song, two very popular customs for ladies during the T’ang Dynasty, considered a golden age of Chinese culture. Such courtiers are described in the numerous love poems written during this era, likely the greatest outpouring of poetry in Chinese history. This stunning lady wears her hair in an elegant coiffure. This sophisticated hairstyle is matched by her sumptuous robe painted in orange and green hues. A remarkable amount of the original pigment that once decorated this work remains intact, most noticeable on her robes and her red lips and rosy cheeks. Such women may represent wives, princesses, or attendants. Their beauty inspires us as we are transported back to another time. This gorgeous sculpture has been to the next world and returned to our modern era to tell us her tale. She speaks of the enormous wealth and sophisticated culture of the T’ang Dynasty, one of the greatest periods of artistic creation in human history. Although she speaks of the past, this lady in waiting continues to amaze us in the present with her unmatched beauty and sculptural refinement. - (H.746)

 

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