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Tricolor Glazed Figurine of a Woman

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Period: Tang dynasty (618-907)
Dimensions: height: 51 cm, width: 16 cm

The attractive figurine has painted eyes and eyebrows. She wears a bird-shaped hat, a narrow-sleeved top, a full-length gown with an outer short-sleeved banbi garment, and boots. She sits on an hourglass-shaped stool and holds a little bird. Similar figurines were also unearthed in Tomb No. 90 in Wangjiafen Village and the western outskirts in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, and in Luoyang, Henan Province. The tricolor glazed figurine of a seated woman from Tomb No. 90 is embellished with persimmon calyx patterns and has a pleated dress similar to that of this figurine. Mainly painted in a green hue, the garment alludes to a poem by Tang dynasty poet Pi Rixiu, “Immortals newly garbed in skirts of emerald clouds”. The image of a lady holding a bird is also seen in stone carvings of other tombs. In the tomb of Tang Princess Yongtai in Qian County, Shaanxi Province, one image shows a bird perching on the back of a noble woman’s hand. In the tomb of Wei Dong in Nanliwang Village in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, an image shows a bird held by a maid. Playing with birds was a form of recreation. Judging from Tang era fresco paintings, stone carvings and pottery figurines, the female figurines of this kind are rather prestigious and might have been crafted after the actual appearance of the tomb's female occupant.

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