A large Chinese Sancai-Glazed Tomb Figure, Ming Dynasty, ca 1368-1644 CE
Object No: AT1407
Green and yellow straw glazed terracotta standing figure on a hexagonal, integral, pedestal base. Clad in a ankle-length garment with wide sleeves, right hand held to his chest. Articulated head is painted white, with traces of red-brown. Figurines of this sort were placed in the Tombs of aristocrats to provide comfort and gifts for the afterlife.
Background: Mingqi, "items for the next world" or "spirit utensils". In ancient China were items made to accompany the deceased in burial. The figures provide insights into belief systems and the daily life's of the Chinese over a thousand-year period. They reveal both how people in early China approached death and how they lived. Pottery wares specifically made for burial ceremonies and gifts flourished in the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). People viewed the afterlife as an extension of the worldly life. The burial gifts encompassed a wide variety of objects including figures, horses, houses, and graceful dancers, mystical beasts, and everyday objects. Also in this period, green-and-brown lustrous lead glazes were developed imitating more expensive bronze items and made with a green glaze probably imported from Rome.
Condition: The surface with some minor glaze flaking, small nicks and wear as expected that does not detract; otherwise intact and in very good condition overall. A few minor edge chips and scattered very minor glaze losses, head has been glued in place, with a 1” area of restoration on the collar, else intact.
Dimensions: Height: 18 1/2 inches (47 cm)
Provenance: Private PA collection, acquired from The Menagerie gallery, Philadelphia, around 2000.
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