A Rare Sancai Seated Court Lady

Tang Dynasty (618-907)
Possibly Gongxian Kilns, Henan, China

Provenance: Christie’s London, Fine Chinese Ceramics Sale (12 December 1988)

SKU: Y105 Category:

A fine and rare sancai pottery figurine of a seated court lady seated on a waisted rockwork base. The slim lady holds the stem of a flower up to its chest with its right hand, while the flower itself, heavy, sinks down and rests on her right shoulder. Her hairstyle known as the luo ji (spiraling shell) is perfectly executed. Wearing a green glazed dress with uneven folds with an amber glazed shawl wrapped around her shoulders drapes below to her knees. Her extremely acute court style shoes appear from underneath her long green dress. Her delightful facial features coupled with the rounded modelling of the face typifies Tang sculpture work.

Figures of high ranking court ladies were few and far between in the Tang repertoire of sculpture making. That being said, women had gained rights that were not present in earlier dynasties, until they were taken away again by the forthcoming Song (960-1279) rulers. This figurine is an example of that short period whereby women could reach the higher echelons of society. Sitting upright and looking downwards she transmits a sense of entitlement. Her left-hand rest on her knee to convey an all-encompassing powerful position.
– The result of thermoluminescence test carried out by Oxford Authentication LTD, certificate number: 466Q43 and is consistent with the dating of this piece.
– A similar sancai-glazed court lady was offered at Sotheby’s New York, ?Important Chinese Art?. 16th March 2016, lot 272.
– Another similar seated court lady is illustrated in ?Selected Masterpieces of the Matsuoka Museum of Art?, Tokyo, 1975, pl. 23.