Painted pottery figure of a court official
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- Tang Dynasty, 618 - 907 AD
- Earthenware with pigment
- 26 cm
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This white pottery figure of a court official is dressed in a flowing orange robe with long sleeves, over a white skirt. His hands are clasped before his body. His face is finely painted and he is wearing an official cap or futou. The futou is a turban-like headgear, that first appeared in the 3rd century. The hat was mostly worn by government officials and could be tied at the back of the head, providing the particular form. During the Tang dynasty the black futou developed and a ribbon was attached to the corners of the turban, so the futou could be styled to the wearer's liking.
The court official 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.