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TANG OPERA SINGER ON HORSEBACK

Object:

Nº 1180

Material:

Terracotta

Type Object:

Funerary ritual, Sculpture, Animals

Dimensions:

Height: 49 cm (19.2") – Length: 37 cm (14.5") – Width: 17 cm (6.6")

Bibliography:

Published in Collecting Masterpieces Part One, by Beryl Cavallini on pg 42 – 43

A very rare iconographic work, presenting an excellent parade horseman sitting firmly on a grey terracotta horse painted in a white slip. The horse is characteristic of the period with its high legs, large and dynamic croup, open mouth, small cocked ears, delicately drawn eyes, and a short curved tail. The horseman is sumptuously dressed in pants with a crossed collar tunic heightened by brown, green and orange decoration. He wears a golden crown and a green-feathered pheasant whose tail drapes over the horseman’s shoulder. A small oriole is perched on his right hand. Good state of preservation. No visible repairs, possible ancient restorations.
This scene is a moment from the Chinese opera which is never anything other than a form of sung traditional theater. Music and dance are most important in China since ancient times. But the first organized form of “opera” is attributed to Emperor Xuanzong (712-756), patron of the arts and founder of the first troupe, named poetically “the Pear Garden”. The singer wears a golden crown with on top a green-feathered pheasant whose tail drapes over the horseman’s shoulder. This bird is traditionally the imperial symbol of authority and it is also, through its dance and song , the symbol of cosmic harmony. This rare iconographic work is an occasion to present a magnificent parade horseman sitting firmly on it, a small oriole perched on his right hand. The horse in grey terracotta is characteristic of the period: high legs, large and dynamic croup, open mouth, small cocked ears, delicately drawn eyes, short curved tail. The horseman is sumptuously dressed in pants and with a tunic with crossed collar heightened by brown, green and orange decoration, he has the dignity one could expect from a character of the theater. On the left, a most graceful young court lady, smiling while holding a small oriole in her right hand. This small bird usually lives in the gardens and in the parks of the big cities. It is a symbol of marriage and happiness in traditional Chinese painting. I Have selected those two statues for their originality and their freshness.


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