Standing court lady, Tang dynasty (618–906), mid-7th century
Earthenware with pigment
H. 15 1/8 in. (38.5 cm)
Anonymous Gift, in memory of Louise G. Dillingham, 1978 (1978.345)
This figurine of a woman in stylish dress represents a dancer in the court of the Tang dynasty, a prosperous time when foreign influences on social customs, fashion, and costume were prominent. Musicians, dancers, and other entertainers from the Western Regions (present-day Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region) were invited to perform for the enjoyment of the princes and courtiers.
The dancer wears a tight high-waisted upper garment with stiffened, out-flaring shoulder projections, a long skirt with billowing streamers, and the fashionable “cloud” shoes with exaggerated upturned toes. Her elegantly slender body is echoed by the long sleeves falling to the knees, and her youthfulness is enhanced by the smooth modeling of the face coated with whitish slip. There are traces of polychrome pigments on the garments and gilt on her elaborate headdress. This dancer’s fanciful costume reflects the exuberant material culture of the Tang court.