Tomb Figure thumbnail 1
Tomb Figure thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
China, Room 44, The T.T. Tsui Gallery

Tomb Figure

675-725 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This earthenware figure represents a richly dressed man, possibly a senior official or a courtier acting as a tomb guardian, and was placed in the tomb of a wealthy person. During the Tang dynasty (AD 618-906) Chinese graves were decorated with murals depicting scenes from court life, performances, or hunting activities, and were also enriched by a large variety of painted or glazed figures that were meant to assist or protect the deceased in the afterlife.

In this example, the figure was built using coils of clay which can still be seen inside, and smoothing the outside with a tool. The whole body was painted with a white colour, and then a layer of pale pink was added to the flesh portions. The brocade design of clouds and floral scrolls on the silk robe was painted in pink, black, red and green with traces of gilding along the edges. About 60% of the original pigments is still visible on the surface.

The hairstyle and clothing of grave figures provide a fascinating insight into the fashion and taste of the time. In this example, the robe is characterised by a cape with a high collar and a V-shaped opening at the neck, long sleeves and frilled ends, from which the shoes emerge with their long, upturned toes.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Earthenware, with painted decoration
Brief Description
Cer, China, Tang, painted
Physical Description
Figure depicting a richly-dressed man, possibly a senior official or a courtier, standing with folded hands on a rock pedestal. The robe has a cape with high collar and V-shaped opening at the neck, long sleeves and frilled ends, from which the shoes come out with their ornamental upturned toes.
Dimensions
  • Height: 104.2cm
Style
Gallery Label
Figure of an official Tang dynasty 675-725 The clothes of this dignitary show the sophisticated tailoring techniques used at this time. Painted earthenware From the Eumorfopoulos collection, purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund, the Vallentin Bequest, Sir Percival David and the Universities China Committee [Art Fund logo] Museum no. C.879-1936(2007)
Credit line
Purchased with Art Fund support, the Vallentin Bequest, Sir Percival David and the Universities China Committee
Subjects depicted
Summary
This earthenware figure represents a richly dressed man, possibly a senior official or a courtier acting as a tomb guardian, and was placed in the tomb of a wealthy person. During the Tang dynasty (AD 618-906) Chinese graves were decorated with murals depicting scenes from court life, performances, or hunting activities, and were also enriched by a large variety of painted or glazed figures that were meant to assist or protect the deceased in the afterlife.



In this example, the figure was built using coils of clay which can still be seen inside, and smoothing the outside with a tool. The whole body was painted with a white colour, and then a layer of pale pink was added to the flesh portions. The brocade design of clouds and floral scrolls on the silk robe was painted in pink, black, red and green with traces of gilding along the edges. About 60% of the original pigments is still visible on the surface.



The hairstyle and clothing of grave figures provide a fascinating insight into the fashion and taste of the time. In this example, the robe is characterised by a cape with a high collar and a V-shaped opening at the neck, long sleeves and frilled ends, from which the shoes emerge with their long, upturned toes.
Collection
Accession Number
C.879-1936

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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