Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
earthenware with mineral pigment

15 3/8 in x 4 1/2 in x 2 3/4 in (39.05 cm x 11.43 cm x 6.99 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of www.silkroadtrade.com owners Seung Man Kim, Robert Piao, Daniel Shin and Hemin Quan

Subject matter
An earthenware mingqi  (明器), or "bright object", figure of a military official of the Tang dynasty (618-906).

The presence of a military official, normally found in pairs within the tomb, would offer protection to the deceased as well as indicate their wealth and high status. The warrior was left unglazed to be finely painted with mineral pigments to give a realistic appearance. It would have been part of a larger set of figures that could have included civil officials, guardian figures, horses and grooms, camels and riders, generally all in pairs.

During the stable and peaceful Tang Dynasty, the Silk Road brought exotic luxury goods to China, including metalwork, glass, precious stones, ivory, and textiles from Central Asian, India, and the Middle East. The bustling Tang capital of Chang’an (modern Xi’an) was a bit like the Paris and New York of today in its cosmopolitan mix of peoples, cultures, music, foods, and goods, especially from Central Asia.  

Since the Qin dynasty (221 - 206 BCE), ceramic figures have been used to replace human sacrifice in burial practices as a way to provide for the deceased. The number of ceramic mingqi items in a tomb could reach numbers of a few to several hundred objects.

Physical Description
A red earthenware standing figure of a military official or warrior, wearing armor including: a tall pointed helmet, elbow-length gauntlets, a cuirass with plaques, and taces. The armor is worn over a long tunic, loose pants, and boots. The arms are placed upon the hips, and he is standing on a rock-like platform in a contraposto stance, with traces of mineral pigment. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
funerary sculpture

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
ceramic (material)
figures (representations)
grave goods
military officers
mineral pigment

& Author Notes

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