Ancient Chinese terracotta figure of an entertainer, dating to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.)
The figure is depicted seated on the ground with a fusion of both human and zoomorphic elements. The face is characterized by ape-like features, prominent lips and a large projecting nose. Conversely, the body language is distinctly human, with the left arm clutched into the midriff and the opposing hand placed on the knee, conveying a clear sense of mirth. Possibly the individual has reached a particularly amusing part of his act. Whilst the figure is not naturalistic, this piece conveys an expressive sense of life and conviviality.
Amoung the Han ming-chi, figures of storytellers are characterized by dramatic or comic poses, gestures and a lively sense of action. These storytellers would also sing and act out their tales in an almost circus-like performance. Despite their popularity, Han texts indicate that many such entertainers were probably trained slaves, often of non-Chinese ethnicity. As such, these figures are often depicted as grotesquely sub-human, as is the case with this piece.
Lively and evocative, this unique piece formed part of the world renowned Schloss Collection. A wonderful piece of Ancient Chinese art.
Condition: Excellent, unrestored.
Height: 1 3/4 inches.
Ex collection of Mr. and Mrs. Ezekiel Schloss.
Ezekiel Schloss is one of the most famous names in ancient Chinese ming-chi (terracotta figure) art. Together with his wife Lillian, he was a prolific collector, well respected authority and author of the major publication "Ancient Chinese ceramic sculpture from Han through T'ang". Schloss arrived in the US from Latvia in 1940. He was an accomplished cartoonist, working for many years at the New York times. The Schloss collection is rare in that it truly represents an educated collection of art; Schloss was immersed in Chinese ming-chi art and only collected beautiful examples of specific types, as well as the unusual, the charming and the rare.