Height: 17 inches, 43.1 cm


Pottery figure of a court lady

China, Tang dynasty, 618 - 906

A pottery figure of a court lady, standing on a flat, square base with canted corners. The figure is dressed in an all-enveloping floor-length robe, which leaves the curled feet protruding from the hem. Her body is elegantly curved, and both arms are bent at the elbows and held before her. Her head is covered in an elaborate, neatly coiffed headdress, which is knotted in the middle. She spreads out the well-defined fingers of both hands. The delicate face features a small mouth and nose, and her narrow eyes are precisely rendered. The buff-coloured pottery is covered in a thin layer of white slip and retains traces of the original black, red, and russet coloured pigments to the face.

The present pottery figure is a fine example of Tang dynasty tomb sculpture. The plump court lady probably represents a person of exalted rank, which is indicated by her full-bodied figure and by the elaborate arrangement of her hair, both of which are considered to be common features of high-ranking ladies. This carefully potted figure embodies what Tang dynasty society considered to represent the ideal of feminine beauty: a full figure and a plump face.[1] A comparable figure with different hairstyle is in the Meiyintang collection.[2] Another similar figure is in the collection of David W. Dewey.[3]

Oxford Thermoluminecense certificate C123q88

  1. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Quest for Eternity: Chinese Ceramic Sculpture from the People’s Republic of China, Thames & Hudson, 1987, p.85
  2. Krahl, R, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, Volume Three (I) London 2006, no. 1220, p. 210.
  3. Jacobsen, R.D. Celestial Horses and Long Sleeve Dancers, The David W. Dewey Collection of Ancient Chinese Tomb Sculpture, Hong Kong 2013, p. 180-1