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Dancing female tomb figures

Dancing female tomb figures
Tang Dynasty (618-906)
China
Red earthenware, traces of red, white and black pigment
h 24.4 x w 12 x d 9 cm, h 25.6 x w 13 x d 8 cm, h 24.4 x d 7 cm
1973
UEA 407a-c

Dancers were popular subjects for the numerous pottery figures buried in tombs. The Tang capital at Chang'an was cosmopolitan in character, with merchants from most parts of Asia trading there. Dancers and musicians were brought to the capital from central and southern Asia, there was probably competition among the elite as to who had the more exotic musicians and dancers at any one time performing in their households. These ladies may not, however, represent foreigners, as their hair is dressed in Chinese fashion in the mode of the early eighth century. The dress with elongated sleeves and hem sweeping the floor would have been an important element in the rhythm of the dance.

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