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Tang Dynasty, 618 - 907 AD
Earthenware with pigment
41.5 cm

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The tall figure is standing atop a rectangular plinth, with hands positioned as if holding reins. He is dressed in a knee-length tunic with large lapels, secured at the waist with a broad sash. His unglazed face is crisply molded with the hair knotted in two pigtails.

During the Tang dynasty there was a large Persian population in China. Sogdians came via the silk road to China, and especially Chang’an, the capital. From this period many mingqi of these Persians are found in the tombs of the nobility. It was believed that life after death was a continuation of the present life, and therefore the deceased was provided with all the objects necessary to continue living after death.  Depicting the pleasures of daily life, mingqi were offerings to ensure special treatment, often in the form of court ladies, dancers, musicians, and horses. The mingqi have a documentary value and a purely aesthetic seduction: they bring an entire society alive again, with its majestic, frivolous or picturesque personages. Ancestor worship was very important, for the welfare of the deceased and for the welfare of the entire family.


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