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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.994
Origin: China
Circa: 618 AD to 906 AD
Dimensions: 12" (30.5cm) high
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Painted Terracotta


Additional Information: Sold

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 beautiful or charming than the sculptures of elegant female courtiers. These gorgeous sculptures represent the idealized woman of T’ang Dynasty China. This sophisticated lady 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. She wears her hair in an elegant coiffure featuring a central crest. This elaborate hairstyle is matched by her sumptuous pleated dress highlighted with orange stripes. Much of the original pigment that once decorated this work remains intact, most noticeable in her vibrant red lips as well as her light violet blouse and green shawl. Such women may represent wives, princesses, or attendants. Their beauty inspires us as we are transported back to another time. This terracotta effigy of an ancient courtier 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.994)

 

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