University Museums

Title: Figure
Name: Figure
Date: Late 7th to 8th century
Period: Tang Dynasty
Medium: Earthenware
Country/Culture: Chinese
Dimensions: 9 7/16 x 2 3/4 x 2 3/8 in. (24 x 7 x 6 cm)
Classification: Decorative Arts, Ceramics
Credit Line: Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Ann and Henry Brunnier Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: 2.2.10
More Information
Under the Tang, the Chinese witnessed an era of tremendous political, cultural and economic growth. The arts of this period offer impressions of an aristocracy enjoying financiall prosperity and intellectual enlightnment. These changes in taste were primarily a direct result of expanded trade and called for increased quality in craftsmanship and designs showing for increased quality in craftsmanship and designs showing more international influence. This celebration of ethnicity illustrates an era of adaptive assimilation, with the Chinese selecting elements from other cultures that complemented their traditional lifestyle.

This burial figure- a lady in waiting- is a fine example of the co-mingling of traditional and progressive tastes that occurred during the Tang period. A courtesan with covered hands and traditional hair are images reminiscent of Chinese heritage. Featuring a European- influenced robe with its low- cut neckline and a slender body, this figure illustates significant absorption of western trends into Chinese society.

From early seventh century through 664 A.D. the Chinese concept of femininity was seen as sleder and elegant. The women were normally shown as waiting-maids, musicians, or dancers. The body was covered with a transparent glaze over pigment. The face was left unglazed and realistically painted in unfired pigment. The wares were quite splendid when they were placed in the tomb. Unfortunately, the pigments used were impermanent and only a few touches of color remain.