East Asia, China, Han Dynasty, ca. 200 BCE. A female painted/glazed pottery tomb figure, of a type known as a mingqi or "spirit utensil" created to care for a deceased individual of high status in the tomb. She stands donning a flowing robe, presenting a tranquil and beautiful visage, with finely modeled and painted features, a centrally parted coiffure or stylized headdress atop her head, holding her hands together in front of her torso. The figure has a detachable head, made to fit into a hole at the top of the molded, hollow body. Nice remains of red, white, and black pigment still grace the surface. Perforations to ears were likely used to suspend ornaments. Size: 30" H (76.2 cm); 31.5" H (80 cm) on included custom stand.
The Han Dynasty was a period of wealth and stability for China, and the burial places of their rulers reflected this prosperity; inside of burial mounds, hundreds and sometimes thousands of miniatures figures were placed, recreating the daily life of the emperor's court or a noble person's world. The creation of all these pottery figures spawned a huge industry and the remains of workshops have been found near the burial mounds. Han Dynasty elites had underground tombs and were accompanied by many pottery figures like this example that were created to meet their every need in the afterlife.
Provenance: private Texas, USA collection, acquired before 1980
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