Sitting boy, Song dynasty (960–1279), 12th century


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Sitting boy, Song dynasty (960–1279), 12th century. Pottery with slip. H. 12 in. (30.5 cm); W. 8 ¾ in. (22.2 cm); D. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm); Wt. 2 lb. (0.9 kg). Lent by Dorothy Tapper Goldman Collection. © 2000–2018 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This plump male child is a rare example of secular figural sculpture from the Song dynasty. It was made at a moment when Song sculpture reached a pinnacle of naturalism. Song historical texts and archaeological discoveries indicate that this type of pottery doll (nihai’er), elaborately dressed with real clothes and jewelry, was made for the Qixi Festival (the seventh day of the seventh lunar month) and kept in people’s homes to express the wish for many male children.