Group of dancers and musicians
AD618-906 Tang Dynasty, China
Chinese Art, Gallery 15, Ground Floor


Focus on the Object

Dancers and Musicians
This group of dancers and musicians (one of which is shown here) formed part of a set of burial objects in Tang (AD 618-906) dynasty China. They are made of low-fired ceramic, on which traces of red pigment remain. Originally they would have been painted all over with coloured pigments, probably including blue, green, white, pink and black in addition to red. They may even have had some gilded ornament, though this tends to be reserved for rather larger, grander figures than the ones in this group.
The figures have the appearance, to us, of sculpted figurines, yet in China both sculpture and ceramics were anonymous craft traditions. These examples would have been mass-produced in two-part moulds, then fired and painted in a large workshop in northern China.