Archaic and Imperial China
Tang Dynasty (AD 618 ­- 906)


Object :
Nº 484
Medium :
Dimensions :
Height: 54 cm (21.2") - Width: 17.5 cm (6.6")
Bibliography :
Published in the book « Collecting Masterpieces » Part one, by Beryl Cavallini, page 30 - 31

Description :

Statuette belonging to the funerary rite of the mingqi in beige and finely moulded clay, covered in a slip. Although it is difficult to determine only one ethnological type, we see that this groom is not of the Han people : he has a small beard at the neckline and rounded facial features, he wears a colourful tunic with an orange slip and tall stemmed felt boots. The headdress is composed of a black hat which was in fashion among the Armenian and Turkish merchants. It is clear that this figure is not of Chinese origin. Good condition. Possible ancient restorations.

Under the Wei, Buddhism is the driving force behind exchanges. Monks used to travel from monastery to monastery, and visiting places of worship was the occasion for great journeys with the family. With the societal changes brought by the Tang as well as the improvements in the journey on the Silk Road path, a rapid expansion in communications takes place. Trade becomes very important, and the subsequent exchanges rapidly create a cosmopolitan society. Numerous traders and craftsmen arrive from the most far-flung countries. Among them, the West, with its Central Asian territories, is a great supplier of foreign workers. The Tang court at Chang’an, modern-day Xi’an, occupied a city with a population at the time of two million inhabitants. One of the biggest cities in the world saw a crowd of men and horses, musicians and dancers, grooms and camels from around the world rub. The Tang, who liked art to be realistic and lively, would not fail to draw on such characteristic figures, and in doing so, revolutionised the customs of funerary art. The groom would thus become a frequent guest in the most refined tombs. This statue depicts a groom from the Turco-Mongol regions: the face is rather square, the short chinstrap beard completed by an affected moustache, the nose strong and hooked. The tight-fitting tunic-style robe falling to the knee, worn over white felt gaiters, indicate his Altaïc origins. The large hat made of felt is not one of the less typical elements as it indicates that this groom belonged to an important household. The proud allure, the position of the arms with fists clenched, (maybe he holds a bridle) and the authoritative gaze, every detail gives an interesting air of self-mastery to the figure.