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.