Height: 15 1/2 inches, 39.3 cm


Pottery figure of a foreign groom

China, Tang dynasty, 7th - 8th century

A pottery figure of a groom, standing on a flat, square base with canted corners. The figure is dressed in an all-enveloping floor-length robe, which leaves the outward pointing feet protruding from the hem. The robe is belted, and the hands are covered in the sleeves. The head is covered in an elaborate, tight-fitting headdress, which is knotted in the middle. The strongly modelled face features a half-open, moustachioed mouth and a full beard. The sharp, protruding nose and the furrowed brows are precisely defined, as are the bulging eyes. The red-coloured pottery is covered in a thin layer of white slip and retains traces of the original orange and black coloured pigments to the face.

This fine pottery figure with his extravagant beard was probably meant to depict a foreign groom. His prominently modelled facial features suggest that he is of Central Asian extraction.This beautifully reflects the fascination Tang dynasty potters had with the many foreigners who visited China at the time. The Tang era can be considered a golden age in the annals of Chinese history, when thousands of foreign merchants and artisans lived in Changan and other large cities of the empire. Similar figures are often found in the water regions where camel and horse teams came and went often. Pottery figures leading horses or camels offer a portrait of life during this period.An unglazed pottery figure of a male attendant with comparable facial features and an equally curly beard is in the Meiyintang collection.[1]

Oxford Thermoluminecense certificate C123q89

  1. Krahl, R. Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, Vol. One, Paradou Writing, London, 2006, no. 188, pp. 114-5