Collecting Masterpieces
Photo of outstanding-tang-dancers-galerie-golconda-archeology

 

Archaic and Imperial Chinat
OUTSTANDING PAIR OF FAIRY DANCERS

 

Object :
Nº 1157
Medium :
Terracotta
Dimensions :
Height: 34 cm (13.3") - Length: 16 cm (6.3")
Bibliography :
Published in "Collecting Masterpieces" Part One by Beryl Cavallini, page 180 - 181

Two young ladies in made in a moulded terracotta, standing with hands on the breast, the hair done up in a chignon with double ring called “while seeing the fairies”. Wearing a long dress with a large knotted flowery belt placed under the bust, and falling down like frilled corollas. High shoulder pads upside and floating bubble sleeves. The pictorial palette is rich and very well preserved with various plants and flowery patterns decorating the dress. The faces features are drawn with a very tiny brush. A white slip helps make uniform the surface before the application of the polychromatic colours very well preserved in the hues of orange and pale blue. Good state of preservation. No visible repairs. Remains of traces of soil.

For a long time, I have dreamed of one day owning a pair of dancers like these. One could be astounded by the stylishness of this extremely elaborate hairstyle, named “watching fairies”; the long and slightly stiff clothing and the crazy shoes… The outfits are unique and surprising, with their high, padded, curving shoulders, and their long double sleeves, which almost reach the ground but leave the hands visible, which was very rare in those days. The dress itself is painted here with colourful, joyful motifs inspired by plants and flowers, while the lower part of the skirt is decorated with three levels of flames or feathers, which were probably starched to keep them that horizontal. No detail has been forgotten, from the pearl necklaces to the belt, which is prettily ornamented with a rosette. Some specialists think that these dancers were performing the “Rainbow feathered dress dance”, which was very fashionable in the days of the Emperor Xuanzong, who reigned between AD 712 and AD 756. Another story tells that the Emperor had dreamed of his favourite, the beautiful Yang Guifei, in this outfit, which then led to the creation of dances to accompany this highly uncommon get-up. However, the hieratic attitude is surprising under the Tang period, which loved movement so much so that it would achieve the most advanced realism. Some years later came the fashion for Fat Ladies, and for a long time the imperial taste for buxom women dispelled the myth of these slender dancers in fine terracotta, worthy of a fairy tale.