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HOME : Chinese Art : Sui Dynasty : A Pair of a Military Officer and a Civil Official
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A Pair of a Military Officer and a Civil Official - H.522
Origin: China
Circa: 581 AD to 618 AD
Dimensions: 16" (40.6cm) high
Catalogue: V17
Collection: Chinese Art
Medium: Glazed Terracotta

Location: Great Britain
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Throughout Chinese history, the military officer and civil official had been among the most idealized personages of Chinese society.  Often in conflict with one another as they vied for supremacy, the military officer and civil official became the object of scrutiny or praise for philosophers and artists, as characterizations of them figured prominently in parables and visual representations of social life.   

These figures of the Sui Dynasty provide an accurate representation of the popular imaginations about these two archetypes.  The military officers stands strong, heavily clad in protective garment with hands clenched as if attached to weapons.  His ferocious face, protruding demon- like eyes, flared nostrils, and lips pulled back to reveal clenched teeth are indicative of prowess, enabling him to intimidate his foe.  On the other hand, the scholarly civil official is a paragon of moral virtue and wisdom.  His features are soft, rounded somewhat feminine accentuated by flowing silk robes draped over his body.  He glows with equanimity--a sure sign of his benevolence in governing and supreme understanding of right and wrong.     

Secular sculpture of the Sui dynasty is represented by tomb figurines that are slim and unadorned.  These figurines, still bearing earthen residue, exemplify Sui tastes, as they too were made to accompany their lord in the afterlife.  Abounded with the virtue of loyalty, the military officer and civil official lived to serve their master--a loyalty that did not end in this life but rather carried on into life after death. - (H.522)


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