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Today Open today 11–5

Figure of a Youth

A work made of earthenware with brown lead glaze.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of earthenware with brown lead glaze.

Date:

Tang dynasty (A.D. 618–907), first half of 8th century

Artist:

China

About this artwork

Tang artisans delighted in observing and depicting traders and travelers from around the world who flocked to China’s major cities. Wearing a toga-like robe and knee-length pantaloons, the figurine of a dark-skinned, curly-haired young boy evokes Tang descriptions of people from “Kunlun,” – a term derived from the remote and mysterious Kunlun Mountains mentioned in ancient mythology. However, it had come to refer to people of non-Chinese origin – especially those from the southern maritime countries in Asia – during the Tang Dynasty.

Clay figures similar to this one were interred in Tang tombs to serve the deceased. With raised hands and a tilted body, the figure exudes a strong sense of movement. It likely portrays a rowing scene: the small holes on the hands might have been used to attach a wooden paddle. Enslaved people of Kunlun (kunlun nu) played a significant role in various maritime operations. They provided the essential labor needed to propel ships engaged in long-distance trade.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Arts of Asia

Title

Figure of a Youth

Place

China (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Artist's working dates 618 CE–906 CE

Medium

Earthenware with brown lead glaze

Dimensions

30.2 × 10.5 × 8.1 cm (11 7/8 × 4 1/8 × 3 3/16 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Emily Crane Chadbourne

Reference Number

1939.221

IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/30214/manifest.json

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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