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Kneeling Figure

Small Stone carving of man kneeling, hands bound behind his back.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Small Stone carving of man kneeling, hands bound behind his back.


late 2nd millennium B.C.


China, probably Sichuan province

About this artwork

This starkly poignant figure, probably a male, kneels with his hands bound behind him with two rounds of thick rope. Parted down the middle, his hair resembles an open book; finely incised parallel lines suggest that it has been meticulously combed, and a long double braid hangs down his back. His facial features are defined by raised eyebrows, high cheekbones, a tight mouth that curves slightly downward, and large pierced ears that project perpendicularly from his head. Evoking fierceness and shock, the man stares blankly ahead—like a subdued victim anticipating a terrifying, painful punishment. Figures with proportions and features similar to this sculpture have recently been unearthed at sites in southwestern Sichuan Province that date to the second millennium BC. Whereas those images were carved from more roughly textured stones and sometimes preserve traces of pigment, this example’s smooth, blackish-green surface appears unique. Scientific analyses indicate that the sculpture was probably darkened by burning before burial and, upon rediscovery, was polished and saturated with wax.


Currently Off View


Arts of Asia


Kneeling Figure


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.

1500 BCE–1000 BCE




19.6 × 7 × 9.8 cm (7 3/4 × 2 3/4 × 3 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Edward and Louise B. Sonnenschein Collection

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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