Height: 8 1/4 inches, 21.8 cm

Glazed pottery figure of a court lady

China, Sui or early Tang Dynasty, 6th – 7th century

A glazed pottery figure of a court lady standing gracefully, attired in a shawl draped over her shoulders and a long dress revealing the tips of her shoes. Her hair is pulled up and bound in a bun on top of the head. Traces of red and black pigment are visible on top of the thin layer of transparent greenish glaze that covers the entire surface.

Female attendants of this type were shaped by potters following examples found in paintings, sculptures, and murals. As symbols of the wealth of the deceased, these figures often displayed sophisticated clothes and headdresses and would depict, among others, court ladies, dancers, and musicians.[1] A highly similar figure dated to the Tang dynasty (618-907) is preserved in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.[2]

  1. Krahl, R., Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 3 (1), London 2006, p. 156
  2. Zheng, X. et al. (eds), Compendium of Collections in The Palace Museum: Sculpture: Funeral Figures and Molds of the Sui and Tang Dynasties, vol. II, Beijing 2009, pl. 52, p. 74