North China; Western Han period (206 B.C.E. - 9 C.E.), 2nd century B.C.E.
Earthenware with slip and traces of pigment
H. 21 1/2 in. (54.6 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
Large retinues of warriors and attendants, as well as models of architecture and household goods, have been excavated from some of the sumptuous burials that date from the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E - C.E. 220). This figure of a standing female attendant is notable for its elegant slimness and quiet pose. It is likely that the sculpture was once part of a larger retinue of attendants buried in the tomb of a high-ranking official. The figure's stillness reflects its position as an attendant, for warriors and entertainers from the same time are generally shown in livelier poses and with more animated features. The position of the woman's joined hands indicates they once may have held some type of object.
Made of earthenware, this standing female was formed using a mold. Before firing, the entire figure was covered with a white mixture of clay and water (known as a slip); the traces of red pigment on the face and black pigment on the hair suggest this figure may once have been painted, giving it a more naturalistic effect than it has now.