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Tall Chinese Han Dynasty Tomb Attendant - Woman

East Asia, China, Han Dynasty, ca. 206 BCE to 220 CE. A very large female pottery tomb attendant, modeled simply but evocatively. She stands facing forward, with her arms down at her sides. Two holes in the sleeves of her long, sweeping robe were originally intended for the insertion of two detachable hands, which would have held an offering or perhaps some kind of tool. The head was likely once detachable as well, suggesting that the bodies of these figures were made together and customized with unique hands and heads. Pigment fills out the details of her face and dress: her white face with its small, bright red lips, her pastel robes with white interiors, and bright and wine red stripes forming hems and a belt. Size: 10" W x 26" H (25.4 cm x 66 cm)

The Han Dynasty was a period of wealth and stability for China, and the burial places of their rulers reflected this prosperity - inside of burial mounds, hundreds and sometimes thousands of figures were placed, recreating the daily life of the Emperor's court or a noble person's world. The creation of all these pottery figures spawned a huge industry and the remains of workshops have also been found near the burial mounds. This example is particularly large.

Condition: Repaired at center of back. The head, which when made was likely to be a separate piece, has been attached to body. Repairs are well done and difficult to see. Wear on surface commensurate with age including chips and nicks. Nice remaining pigment that gives a good idea of what the piece looked like when first made.

Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection

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