Terracotta moulded figures of people and animals were meant to be grave goods to be placed in tombs. It was believed that these figures would serve and assist the deceased in the afterlife. Figures of this type are called mingqui in Chinese, and usually depict servants, officials, soldiers, musicians, court attendants, dancers and, in the case of animals, horses and Bactrian camels. As in life, attendant figures were supposed to stay nearby their master, waiting to fulfil the desires and needs of the deceased. They were lined outside the tomb before the coffin was taken inside, and then placed and arranged inside the tomb. The size and number of the figures in a grave depended on the rank of the deceased.
Northern Qi Dynasty Attendant
A Chinese Northern Qi hollow statuette of a court attendant. The figure is shown standing, wearing the traditional Chinese court robes and a cap. Traces of the original black, red and white pigment are well visible on his robes and the face. Physiognomy is delicately and proportionally modelled with outlined eyes, lips and nose. The attendant has his hands clasped in front, where there used to be a hole (now filled with earthly deposits) for putting offerings such as incense, in order to ensure the happiness of the deceased in the afterlife.