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Tomb figure

Tomb figure

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    700-750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted earthenware, coloured with lead glazes

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Lady Loraine, in memory of her husband, the Rt. Hon. Sir Percy Loraine, Bt, GCMG

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    China, Room 44, The T.T. Tsui Gallery, case 19

The use of tomb figures was a widespread practice in China since the Han dynasty (208 BC-AD 220). Funerary objects, either figures or vessels and daily tools, were placed in the burial to recreate a familiar environment and to accompany the deceased in the afterlife. This earthenware figure is part of a group of eight female attendants or dancers, wearing high-waisted dressesand long shawls typical of the early Tang period (AD 618-907).

The group is divided into four pairs, each characterised by a different hairstyle; in this case the hair is coiled on top of the head and rise diagonally to one side. Head and neck are left unglazed, sometimes with traces of unfired red painting on lips and cheeks, and of black colour on the eyes or hair. The body is decorated with yellow-brown, green and colourless lead glazes, from which comes the name sancai or 'three colours' given to this kind of ware.

Physical description

Tomb figure of female attendant or dancer. The figure wears a long dress with a shawl draped over the shoulders; the hair is coiled on the top of the head rising diagonally to one side.

Place of Origin

China (made)


700-750 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted earthenware, coloured with lead glazes


Height: 31 cm maximum

Descriptive line

Tomb figure, glazed earthenware, China, Tang dynasty, 700-750 ca.

Labels and date

Figures of eight women
Tang dynasty

Earthenware with three-coloured (sancai) glaze

Lady Loraine Gift, in memory of her husband Sir Percy Loraine
Museum no. C.66-1961 [2007]




Painted; Glazing

Subjects depicted



ELISE; Death; Archaeology; Earthenware


East Asia Collection

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