Object nr. 218 China, Tang Dynasty (618-907) Height: 29 cm

- Private Collection, The Netherlands
- purchased V&V 2008

Condition Report available

€ 6,500

This object can be viewed in our gallery.

Additional Information

Tang Groom

The Tang Dynasty marks one of the richest and most glorious peaks in the history of Chinese art. The empire was strong and prosperous, and attracted many people from abroad. As the country flourished, its culture reached new heights. Terracotta tomb figurines made up a sizeable segment of the ceramics manufactured during this period. The potter captured life and movement, mimicking the essence of a gesture or mood with superb fidelity. Placed in tombs, the figures reflect the status of the deceased.

This groom is a typical example of how foreigners were portrayed by craftsmen of the Tang Dynasty: with thick beards, big noses, deep-set eyes and high cheekbones. They are often depicted wearing a tunic with turn-down collars and a Chinese style cap. Foreigners reached China via the Silk Road. They tried to find their luck in Chang’an (Xian) which was the most cosmopolitan city in the world of that time.

Many of these foreign visitors found positions such as armed retainers in the Imperial Court or served as attendants for the nobility. In the 7th and 8th centuries is was particularly fashionable to employ foreign grooms. The variety of racial types found among tomb figures is remarkable. They include central Asians such as Khorezmians, Sogdians, Uyghurs and Turks; men from Tochsristan and from even further west figures with Iranian or Caucasian features. They tend to wear their native dress, so that the hats, boots, coats and shoes give clues to their origins. There are thought to be 250,000 foreigners living in Chang’an out of a total of 2 million in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), therefore it is no surprise that so many types of foreigners are depicted.

Floris van der Ven