Pair of Tang Sancai-Glazed Terracotta Ladies-in-Waiting

SKU CK.0300
Circa

618 AD to 906 AD

Dimensions

10.8″ (27.4cm) high x 3.25″ (8.3cm) wide

Medium

Glazed Terracotta

Origin

China

Gallery Location

UAE


 

During the Tang Dynasty, restrictions were placed on the number of objects that could be included in tombs, an amount determined by an individual’s social rank. In spite of the limitations, a striking variety of tomb furnishings, known as mingqi, have been excavated. Entire retinues of ceramic figures – animals, entertainers, musicians, guardians – were buried with the dead in order to provide for the afterlife. Of the various types of mingqi, there is perhaps none more beautiful or charming than the sculptures of elegant female courtiers. These gorgeous sculptures represent the idealized woman of T’ang Dynasty China. This pair of ladies-in-waiting provided eternal companionship for their lord throughout the afterlife. We can imagine them gracefully dancing or singing a poetical song, two very popular customs for ladies during the T’ang Dynasty, considered a golden age of Chinese culture. Such courtiers are described in the numerous love poems written during this era, likely the greatest outpouring of poetry in Chinese history. The garments of these ladies are treated in a lovely sancai glaze. Although the word sancai (literally meaning “three-colors”) is widely known among collections, the production of sancai-glazed wares is relatively scarce, spanning only two hundred years of the entire Chinese history. Such works are among the most highly prized examples of Chinese art, treasured as much for their rarity as for their stunning beauty. This marvelous pair is no exception. Such women may represent wives, princesses, or attendants. Their beauty inspires us as we are transported back to another time. This pair of terracotta effigies of ancient courtiers has been to the next world and returned to our modern era to tell us their tale. They speak of the enormous wealth and sophisticated culture of the T’ang Dynasty, one of the greatest periods of artistic creation in human history. Although they speak of the past, these ladies in waiting continues to amaze us in the present with their unmatched beauty and sculptural refinement.

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