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HOME : Chinese Art : Tang Fat Ladies : Tang Sculpture of a Fat Lady
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Tang Sculpture of a Fat Lady - RP.078
Origin: China
Circa: 618 AD to 907 AD
Dimensions: 12.25" (31.1cm) high x 3.5" (8.9cm) wide
Collection: Chinese Art
Medium: Terracotta

Location: UAE
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This beautiful ceramic attendant was made during what many consider to be China’s Golden Age, the T’ang Dynasty. It was at this point that China’s outstanding technological and aesthetic achievements opened to external influences resulting in the introduction of numerous new forms of self-expression, coupled with internal innovation and considerable social freedom. The T’ang dynasty also saw the birth of the printed novel, significant musical and theatrical creations, and many of China’s best- known painters and artists.

The artworks created during this era are among China’s greatest cultural achievements. It was the greatest age for Chinese poetry and painting, and sculpture also developed (although there was a notable decline in Buddhist sculptures following repression of the faith by pro-Taoism administrations later in the regime). It is disarming to note that the eventual decline of imperial power, followed by the official end of the dynasty on the 4th of June 907, hardly affected the great artistic turnover.

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 – representing warriors, animals, entertainers, musicians, guardians and every other necessary category of assistant were buried with the dead in order to provide for the afterlife. Of all the various types of mingqi, however, there are none more elegant or charming than the sculptures of sophisticated female courtiers, known as “fat ladies”. These wonderfully expressionistic sculptures represent the idealized beauty of the Tang Dynasty China while also demonstrating sculptural mastery in exaggerating characteristics for effect for the sheer elegance of execution.

The current sculpture is a classic example of the genre. She is draped from neck to foot in a long pleated dress with large sleeves. She leans her weight slightly on her left foot and tips her head to her left as if in gentle enquiry. Her features are soft and smooth, with rounded jowls and cheeks that accentuate the delicacy of her features. Her face is painted and modeled in perfect serenity complete with a small rounded nose, pouting lips and slanted dark painted eyes with distinct pupils. Her hands are folded together with the drapery of her sleeves hanging loosely in ripples between her wrists and elbows. Her gown is pale in color and decorated with the remains of floral designs.

This piece offers a narrative of courtly life over a thousand years ago, in superbly delicate and refined detail. This stunning piece of Chinese art serve as a beautiful addition to any collection of ancient art.

- (RP.078)


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