Large fat lady

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

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This large fat lady is wearing a long, loose robe with her hands clasped beneath. Her bulbous body is swayed to the side and her full, serene face is framed by the elaborate hair, with a pouf. There are traces of pigment on the face and the hair of the lady. Women wearing long robes are most characteristic of the style of the high Tang period. The plumb figure represents the ideal woman of the time.

The court lady was part of the burial rituals in the Chinese Tang Dynasty. High-ranking persons in northern China were buried with mingqi: 'spirit goods'. 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, such as terracotta animals, food, clothing, valuables, as well as warriors, musicians and guardians. The tombs were designed architecturally so that, together with the objects, they provided both a comfortable final resting place as well as a safe journey for the deceased into the afterlife. Ancestor worship was very important, for the welfare of the deceased and for the welfare of the entire family. In the period of the Tang Dynasty the number of objects that could be included in tombs depended on the individual's rank and wealth; more objects meant a high ranking and wealthy person.   

Similar court ladies of this type were excaveted in 1955; tomb 131, Gaolon Village, Xian, Shaaxi province, and illustrated in 'The Quest for Eternity', Los Angeles 1987, p. 139, 140, cat. no 83, 84.


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