Extremely Rare Set of Four Painted Pottery Figures of Male Musicians


Superb and Most Rare pottery “mingqi” representing a set of four (4) male musicians and singers.

Grey earthenware coated with white slip and remains of white, light and dark blue, pink, yellow, ,red, black and brick-red pigment.

Height two figures 17- other two figures 21 cm.,
Tang dynasty (618-907)
Provenance: Old Dutch private collection, acquired back in the 1990’s.

Auction result comparison: Compare with a closely related set of two musicians at Christies New York in Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art part I, 17 – 18 March 2016, lot 1479, sold for USD $27,500.

– Scientific Report for the set of the musicians:
– The results of thermoluminescence tests are consistent with the dating of this object, Tang dynasty.

– Extra test: Pre-dose test has been done: Pre-dose test confirms old firing without any kind of artificial x-ray treatments!

All three musicians seated, with one leg raised, wearing same long sleeved robes above black boots. The softly modelled faces detailed in red and black pigment on a white slip beneath the black hair drawn in hairdo by the four female and up in a knot by the male.

Kucha (or Kuche) was an ancient Buddhist kingdom located on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin and south of the Muzat River.

Literature comparison: These four figures are similar to a group of ten seated female court musicians in the Shoso-in, Japan, illustrated by Ryoichi Hayashi in The Silk Road and the Shoso-in, New York/Tokyo, 1975, p. 96, fig. 103. Three similar painted pottery figures of seated female court musicians illustrated by J. Baker in Appeasing the Spirits: Sui and Tang Dynasty Tomb Sculpture from the Schloss Collection, Hofstra Museum, Hofstra University, 1993, p. 18, no. 9, are described as wearing Kuchean fashions, and representing the Kuchean modes of music and entertainment that were popular during the Sui and early Tang periods. The same costume and Kuchean hair style can also be seen on a group of standing figures illustrated p. 17, nos. 6 and 7. In discussing a group of nine similarly attired and coiffed standing figures of female musicians illustrated in China: A History in Art, New York, 1979, p. 132 (top), the authors, B. Smith and Wango Weng, note that female musicians from Chinese Turkestan played for the court, and that “musicians from Kucha in Central Asia probably exerted the most influence” at court.

€ 8250, –

Important information.

Condition report available

It will be professionally packed and safely send in a wooden crate by FedEx.
Buyers are responsible for import regulation and restrictions of their own country

This object can be viewed in our gallery in Amsterdam.

A D D I T I O N A L   I N F O R M A T I O N

The Tang dynasty or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Historians generally regard the Tang as a high point in Chinese civilization, and a golden age of cosmopolitan culture.[7] Tang territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, rivaled that of the Han dynasty.

The Lǐ family (李) founded the dynasty, seizing power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire and inaugurating a period of progress and stability in the first half of the dynasty’s rule. The dynasty was formally interrupted during 690–705 when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne, proclaiming the Wu Zhou dynasty and becoming the only legitimate Chinese empress regnant. The devastating An Lushan Rebellion (755–763) shook the nation and led to the decline of central authority in the dynasty’s latter half. Like the previous Sui dynasty, the Tang maintained a civil-service system by recruiting scholar-officials through standardized examinations and recommendations to office. The rise of regional military governors known as jiedushi during the 9th century undermined this civil order. The dynasty and central government went into decline by the latter half of the 9th century; agrarian rebellions resulted in mass population loss and displacement, widespread poverty, and further government dysfunction that ultimately ended the dynasty in 907.

The Tang capital at Chang’an (present-day Xi’an) was then the world’s most populous city. Two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries estimated the empire’s population at about 50 million people,[8][9] which grew to an estimated 80 million by the dynasty’s end. From its numerous subjects, the dynasty raised professional and conscripted armies of hundreds of thousands of troops to contend with nomadic powers for control of Inner Asia and the lucrative trade-routes along the Silk Road. Far-flung kingdoms and states paid tribute to the Tang court, while the Tang also indirectly controlled several regions through a protectorate system. The adoption of the title Khan of Heaven by the Tang emperor Taizong was eastern Asia’s first “simultaneous kingship”. In addition to its political hegemony, the Tang exerted a powerful cultural influence over neighboring East Asian nations such as Japan and Korea.

Chinese culture flourished and further matured during the Tang era. It is traditionally considered the greatest age for Chinese poetry. Two of China’s most famous poets, Li Bai and Du Fu, belonged to this age, as did many famous painters such as Han Gan, Zhang Xuan, and Zhou Fang. Tang scholars compiled a rich variety of historical literature, as well as encyclopedias and geographical works. Notable innovations included the development of woodblock printing. Buddhism became a major influence in Chinese culture, with native Chinese sects gaining prominence. However, in the 840s Emperor Wuzong enacted policies to suppress Buddhism, which subsequently declined in influence.

From Wikipedia

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