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Funerary Statuette: Soldier

Location

CHINA, SHAANXI PROVINCE

Era

Western Han dynasty (206 B.C.E.-9 C.E.)

Title

Funerary Statuette: Soldier

Date

About 141 B.C.E.

Materials

Earthenware, traces of pigment

Dimensions

58.6 x 9 x 8 cm

Credits

Gift of Claude Paradis, inv. 2016.188

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

This armless nude figurine with clearly delineated genitalia originally boasted wooden or cloth arms and was dressed in fabric or other perishable materials. Our now-stripped soldier, associated with the burial complexes of the Western Han period, reflects an important preoccupation of the time: its maker did not simply imitate the external appearance of a clothed human being, but rather genderized the body first and then clothed it, duplicating the process of fashioning a human form, that is, seeking to evoke the way people look when wearing layer upon layer of clothing and ornamentation. Such was the case with our soldier. He would then have taken part, together with hundreds of companions, in the re-creation of an animated underground world, where soldiers, attendants and others, dressed in miniature clothes and equipped with weapons and other miniature instruments, carried out their respective duties for the tomb’s occupant.

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