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HOME : Chinese Art : Archive : Set of Eight T'ang Ladies-in-Waiting
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Set of Eight T'ang Ladies-in-Waiting - H.690
Origin: China
Circa: 618 AD to 907 AD
Dimensions: 9" (22.9cm) high
Collection: Chinese
Style: T'ang Dynasty
Medium: Terracotta

Additional Information: sold

Location: Great Britain
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This general type of Chinese burial art is known as mingqi. Mingqi were any of a variety of objects specifically created for interment in the tombs of elite individuals in order to provide for the afterlife. Of the various types of mingqi, from food utensils and storage vessels to sculptures of warriors and horses, there is perhaps none more charming than the beautiful sculptures of elegant ladies in waiting. This set of six gorgeous women, along with two male officials marked by their conical caps, reflects the appreciation of the feminine form during the T’ang Dynasty. These elegant, sophisticated figures provided eternal companionship throughout the afterlife. We can imagine the ladies 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 female courtiers are described in the numerous love poems written during this era, likely the greatest outpouring of poetry in Chinese history. Meanwhile, the male officials would attend to bureaucratic details of the imperial government. The ladies wear their hair in a variety of styles including side locks and fan-shaped coiffures. The gently swaying posture of some of the women reinforces the notion of graceful dancers. These women may represent wives, princesses, or attendants while the men depict highly trained government officials, all ready to heed their master’s beck and call in the afterlife. This set of eight sculptures inspires us as we transport back into another era. Such mingqi were interred according to an ancient tradition in order to provide for the afterlife. Truly, this group of figures has been to the next world, returning 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 works continue to amaze us in the present with their unmatched beauty and refinement. - (H.690)


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