top of page

Ca. AD 618-907

A beautifully modelled pair of terracotta male dignitaries, each standing on a raised base. The figures are shown with the head turned in a responsive gesture; one hand is at his chest, pointing to his left whilst the other arm lies along the body within the long sleeve. A long red tunic is tied a the waist by a cream belt. Pointed shoes complete the attire. Their faces are finely modelled with chubby cheeks and traces of red paint on the lips, and their heads are topped with black cloth caps.


In China, the custom of producing ceramic tomb sculptures reached its pinnacle during the Tang dynasty, one of the most peaceful, prosperous, cosmopolitan eras in China's history. Large sets of ceramic sculptures representing the horses, camels, and foreign merchants that frequented northern China have been recovered from burials. Tang ceramic funerary retinues were especially elaborate, featuring fierce armoured guards, proud dignitaries such as this piece, and aristocratic equestrians engaged in leisurely pursuits, all serving to demonstrate the high status of the tomb occupant. For more general information on the Tang Dynasty, see Benn, C. (2002). Daily Life in Traditional China: The Tang Dynasty. Westport: Greenwood Press and Watt, J. C. Y., et al. (2004). China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 A.D. Exhibition catalogue. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.


This piece has been precisely dated by means of a Thermo Luminescence analysis carried out by Ralf Kotalla, an independent German Laboratory. The samples collected date the piece to the period reflected in its style, whilst also showing no modern trace elements. The TL certificate with its full report will accompany this piece.


Provenance: From the private collection of a Somerset gentleman; previously in an old British collection, formed in the 1980s on the UK /European art markets.


  • Dimensions

    L: 740mm / W: 220mm; 10.32kg (each)

bottom of page