Art of Asia
- Tang dynasty (618–907), an introduction
- An Introduction to the Tang dynasty (618–906)
- A Tang silk brocade
- Tang Yue ware
- Tomb figurines, Tang dynasty
- Tomb figures of a man and woman on horseback
- Tomb figure of a groom
- Stele of the Buddha Maitreya
- Central Asian wine peddler
- Chinese Buddhist cave shrines
- Mogao caves at Dunhuang
- Jataka tales at Dunhuang
- Dunhuang Historical Art, Cave 323
- A silk painting of sacred Buddhist images from Dunhuang
- The paintings and manuscripts from cave 17 at Mogao (1 of 2)
- The paintings and manuscripts from cave 17 at Mogao (2 of 2)
- Hong Bian, the monk in the Library Cave, Mogao
- Zhou Fang, Ladies Wearing Flowers in Their Hair
- Taoism in the Tang and Song dynasties
- Admonitions Scroll, attributed to Gu Kaizhi
- Han Gan, Night-Shining White
- Zither (qin) inscribed with the name “Dragon’s Moan”
What is this object?
The figure is a Central Asian wine merchant holding a large sack of wine. This object was made to be placed in tombs of the elite during the middle period of the Tang dynasty (618–906). Tang tombs of this type were multi-chambered constructions, often with passageways and niches where such objects would have been placed after the tomb owner’s body had been interred and funerary rituals completed. Because of the lead glaze, which could be toxic if used in daily activities, such objects would not have been used by the living, but prepared especially for burial.
How was it made?
This object was made from light-colored earthenware clays, partly using molds with added sections that were joined together. The insides were often hollow or had holes to prevent unwanted distortion of the object when fired. The polychrome (multicolored) glaze is called sancai (literally "three colors"), typically made from a lead glaze with mineral pigments of copper (for green), iron (for brown and amber), and cobalt (for blue), and fired at a temperature of about 800–1000 C°. The production of sancai wares flourished between the late 600s and mid-700s, mainly in northern China. Before this period, colors on most ceramics were limited to a relatively finite range of green and brown glazed wares.
How do these objects reflect the life and times when they were made?
Objects such as this work, even though it was intended for burial, give us a colorful view of life during the high Tang dynasty. It makes specific reference to the trade routes. The wine merchant holds a leather wine container. Foreigners, especially Central Asian traders, entertainers, and grooms of horses and camels were frequently depicted in tomb figurines, even before the Tang dynasty. (Interestingly, tomb occupants were not depicted in such figures, but might have appeared on wall paintings). This merchant wears non-Chinese garments, including a small cap, a sleeveless tunic, and boots.
Want to join the conversation?
- We read, "This merchant wears non-Chinese garments, including a small cap, a sleeveless tunic, and boots."
What about those garments is "non-Chinese"?(5 votes)
- I believe that by "foreign" the HuFu (barbarian) style is referred to (trousers, tight fitting and not so long shirt plus boots). He is unlikely to wear imported clothing. The fashion at the time was inspired by Western (Turkish trader) clothing. In the Tang dynasty, this combination of clothing could be worn both by men and women. http://www.cernuschi.paris.fr/en/collections/orchestra-eight-horsewomen-musicians
Men had worn trousers in the previous period too, for practicality, but clothes became tighter in the Tang dynasty.
Around 800 is a long time ago. Not many textiles have survived, not many paintings nor sculptures either - and those who do rarely show peasants or laborers.(6 votes)
- in most ways, this is the same article as the one about the camel that preceded it. Couldn't the two have been combined?(2 votes)