A group of six painted pottery figures of seated female musicians, Tang dynasty (AD 618-907)

Lot 703. A group of six painted pottery figures of seated female musicians, Tang dynasty (AD 618-907). Each: 7 ½ in. (19 cm.) high. Estimate USD 40,000 - USD 60,000© Christie's Images Ltd 2018

Each figure wears a long shawl draped over the shoulders of her low-bodiced dress that falls in graceful folds around her knees. They are shown in performance playing a variety of instruments including the lute, cymbals and various types of flutes. The facial features are delicately modeled in a serene expression and the hair is adorned with a headdress. There are traces of original red, black and green pigments.  

ProvenanceGisèle Croës, Brussels, acquired in 1994.

LiteratureGisele Croës, XVIIe Biennale des Antiquaires, Paris, 1994, no. 70.

Exhibited : Paris, XVIIe Biennale des Antiquaires, Gisele Croës, 10-24 November 1994.

Note: This group of musicians illustrates the popularity not only of foreign dress during the Tang period, but of the taste for the music and instruments of Central Asia, particularly Sogdiana and Kucha, said to have been introduced to the court by the Turkic wife of Emperor Wudi (r. 561-78). Traditional Chinese thought held that music influences the harmony of the universe, and was thus more meaningful than mere entertainment. A group of three related, kneeling pottery figures of female musicians, with foreign hair styles, is illustrated by J. Baker in Seeking Immortality: Chinese Tomb Sculpture from the Schloss Collection, Santa Ana, 1996, p. 30.

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 22 - 23 March 2018, New York