Tang Dynasty Lady Court Attendant, circa 680 AD - 710 AD
The lithe and graceful form of this figure places the sculpture in the late 7th century. Her clothes and hairstyle will change around 720 AD when the fashion requires heavier ladies and fuller, lush hair-dos. Female attendants were generally made in groups for the tombs of imperial or aristocratic women.
Like their mistresses, the lady in waiting is dressed in the height of fashion. She wears a high waisted, low necked gown with long sleeves, with her shoulders draped in an elongated, graceful shawl. Her hair is worn in the elaborate topknot style, typical of the era. If she seems to slouch, that is the style of the period, a bit like the medieval S curve seen in the Virgin Mary, particularly in the Gothic period.
The figure is part glazed in what is known as a Sancai glaze, meaning the application of three colours, green, amber and straw. This was a complex technique developed during the Tang Dynasty.
The sculpture would have been moulded and the face carved. Afterwards, the glazes would have been applied, with three separate firings because of the three colours used. As this was a more complicated process, even during its day, Sancai glazed items were always much more costly than the unglazed, painted pieces. This holds true today as well. It must be remembered that the figure would have been buried for nearly 1400 years, which is why the figure has been able to survive. But traces of encrusted mud, within the interior of the figure, as well as traces on the outside remain and are part of the artifact.
The condition is excellent. It is possible that her head might have been broken off at some point and restored, but it is difficult to be sure. The neck is always a weak point in these sculptures. But, unlike porcelain, repairs to a tomb figure are acceptable and don’t seriously affect the value. If you think how these items were rescued from the ground, breakage would have been inevitable.
10½ cm H x 5 cm D x 7 cm L
The figure comes with an acrylic stand with a post in the middle to support the figure. The stand is 8½ cm x 9 cm x 2 cm high