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HOME : Chinese Art : Sui Dynasty : Sui period glazed figurine of a Lady in Waiting
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Sui period glazed figurine of a Lady in Waiting - H.872
Origin: China
Circa: 581 AD to 618 AD
Dimensions: 10.25" (26.0cm) high
Collection: Chinese Art
Style: Sui Period
Medium: Terracotta

Location: Great Britain
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The Sui Dynasty was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties and reinstalled the rule of ethnic Han Chinese in the entire China, along with sinicization of former nomadic ethnic minorities within its territory. It was succeeded by the Tang dynasty, which largely inherited its achievements. Tomb figures, such as this figurine of a female attendant, are pottery figures of people and animals especially created as grave goods to accompany the deceased person by being placed in tombs. This funerary custom was based on the belief that the figures represented being occupied in various situations would become available for the service of the deceased in the afterlife. Such figures were made of moulded earthenware with the colour generally being added, though often not over the whole figure. Regardless of its brief duration, lasting for the rule of only two emperors, the Sui Dynasty paved the way for the golden age attained during the T’ang Dynasty. Perhaps their most significant constructive project was the construction of the Great Canal, a project that facilitated the movement of people and commercial goods across great distances, leading to the reunification of China. However, the cost of the Canal completely bankrupted the empire and ultimately led to its dissolution. The rulers of the T’ang would capitalize on the infrastructural improvements of the Sui and establish one of the greatest empires in the history of China, following their footsteps.

Secular sculpture of the Sui dynasty is represented by tomb figurines that are slim and unadorned, characterized by a yellowish crème glazed that would be elaborated upon in the Sancai-glazed ware of the T’ang Dynasty. These figurines, still bearing earthen residue, exemplify Sui tastes, as they were made specifically to accompany their lord in the afterlife. This figurine of a female attendant is a great example of Sui period coroplastic. While her long-sleeved dressed have been covered in a bright yellow glaze, her facial features and hair have been highlighted in black paint, with red for her lips.
- (H.872)


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