Large Chinese sancai, three-colour glazed pottery standing figure of a West Asian civil official, his hands clasped at the front, wearing long flowing robes with three-colour splashed breast plate and cuffs, rich chestnut jacket, upright collar and shoes, with white glazed skirt having traces of oxidisation and splashed raised rockwork form openwork base, the detailed face and official hat unglazed with traces of original pink and black pigment.
83.5 cm high.
Tang dynasty, 7th – 8th century.
Provenance & Additional Information
- Sold by Christie’s London in their auction of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 20th June 2002, lot 558.
- Included by Roger Keverne in Summer Exhibition, London, 2003, 40.
- Sold by Bonhams London in their auction of Roger Keverne Ltd: Moving On, 11th May 2021, lot 82.
- Published by Marchant in their exhibition of Chinese Ceramics Tang to Song, 2022, no. 4, pp. 14-15.
- A related figure wearing a similar hat, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, purchased by the Rogers Fund in 1911, formerly in the collection of Ernest Bischoff, New York, is illustrated by Suzanne G. Valenstein in A Handbook of Chinese Ceramics, no. 62, pp. 68/9, where the author notes, “A commanding group (Color Nos. 5 and 6; Nos. 61 and 62), which is decorated in both ‘three-color’ glazes and pigments, depicts foreigners of Western origin: one tomb official is identifiable as a Uighur Turk; the other three figures all have what has been characterized as Khotanese physiognomy. This admixture of alien personages with such a characteristically native art form as burial furniture demonstrates the cosmopolitan attitude during the Tang period. It would appear that the production of especially splendid sancai-glazed figures was, for the most part, confined to the period known as ‘high’, or ‘florescent’, Tang (about the late seventh – first half of the eighth century). After a rebellion launched by General An Lushan in 755, which was disastrous to the country’s economy, especially in the North, the use of sumptuous polychrome-glazed wares declined sharply.”
- Another with identical colouring in the Yanshi Shangcheng Museum, unearthed from the tomb of Zhang Sizhong, Yanxi, dated 709, is illustrated by Sun Xinmin in Three-Colour Ware of the Tang Dynasty, The Henan Province Discoveries, 37, p. 62; another in the Henan Museum described as a civil official is illustrated by Prof. Liu Liang-yu in Early Wares: Prehistoric to Tenth Century, A Survey of Chinese Ceramics, p. 247; a related figure in the British Museum, from the tomb of Liu Tingxun dated 728, is illustrated by William Watson in Tang and Liao Ceramics, no. 196, p. 176.
An area of retouching to the right elbow and surrounding area, a small area of retouching to the left shoulder, various other natural flakes, and a small nick on the back of his collar.