Song Dynasty Terracotta Tile with Musician

£ 700.00

A finely carved unglazed terracotta squared tile dating from the Song Dynasty. To the front, a musician sits beneath a florid frame, a common motif in Buddhist art, derived from the Indian chaitya arch. The man is portrayed in a naturalistic manner, with a plump face and delicate features, emphasised by the exceptional retention of the original pink, red and yellow pigmentation. Though this has worn off with age. He wears the traditional court attire – shenyi – comprised of a long-belted robe with wide sleeves. He is perhaps sitting behind a table, as he plays the traditional Chinese ‘qin’ (古琴) musical instrument to entertain his master. The reverse displays the palm imprints of the potter, forming a personal mark.

Date: AD 960-1279
Period: Song Dynasty
Condition: Good condition, some flacking and chips to the surface and edges. Earthly encrustations to surface. Some wear due to age.


Product Code: CS-59
Category: Tags: ,

The Song Dynasty ruled China during one of its most brilliant and sophisticated cultural epochs, marking a high point for innovation in economy, science, engineering, and warfare. The Dynasty saw the introduction of the first banknotes and the first recorded chemical formula for gunpowder, as well as large-scale experimental architecture and a new intellectual interest in the arts. During this period, Buddhism waned in popularity as new philosophical schools of thought were introduced. The development of Neo-Confucianism and the re-emergence of Daoism reverberated through society, guiding it to ideals of balance and order. Buddhism, however, retained a strong influence over the arts, and many representations of Buddhist iconography can be found in the Song Dynasty extensive artistic production.

Sometimes potters and especially tile-makers of the Song period ‘signed’ their work by impressing one hand flat into the reverse. A whole tomb decorated with figural representation modified in this way was unearthed in Shanxi Province and reported in the western press in 2018, when it was revealed during renovations to a modern house built over the tomb.


Dimensions L 29.9 x W 29.9 x H 4.2 cm

East Asia (Far East)



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