Figure of a mounted woman. Polychrome glazed and painted earthenware. China, Hebei or Henan provinces. Tang dynasty, first half of AD 8th c. Donated by George Eumorfopoulos (2200).
This figure of a female polo player embodies the extravagance of the Tang court at the period of its greatest power, during the reigns of the Xuanzong (r. AD 713–756) and Suzong emperors (r. AD 756–762). With the ‘Silk Routes’ at their most active, the economy prosperous and the government running smoothly throughout an empire of immense size and resources, the court at the capital of Chang’an could indulge in luxurious imported goods, games in which courtesans engaged dressed in men’s clothes and refined artistic and poetic pursuits. Few of the golden eras of human history have been so eloquently immortalised as this society was in its burial figures.