It is likely that the original purpose of the figure was that of a mingqi, terracotta figures designed to be included in a burial in order to accompany the deceased in the afterlife for protection, service and companionship. Though these were particularly popular during the Tang dynasty (618-906 AD), mingqi from a broad range of historical periods have been found, with this piece acting as a particularly early example of the practice.
To discover more about Han Dynasty culture, please visit our relevant blog post: Han Dynasty Culture.
Han Dynasty Head Fragment
A finely modelled Chinese Han Dynasty terracotta head of a female court attendant. Much of the original pigment remains, with white slip covering the face and black used to delineate the hair, which is centrally parted and slicked back, defined by incised lines. Red pigment on the lips of the figure add character to the face and suggest that, in its original condition, features such as the eyes would have also been more clearly defined by the use of coloured pigments. Facial features are nicely rendered with much attention towards details. The slight smile of this particular figure makes for an especially endearing piece.