A rare set of four pottery figures of marching soldiers

北魏     陶拿盾步兵俑四件

Each figure is modelled in a lively attitude supported on a cushion-shaped oval base, with the body leaning slightly forwards and the left leg advanced as is marching. The right hand is curled into a fist at the shoulder, with a hole for supporting some weapon since disappeared. The left arm is by the side, grasping the central handle of the full length shield with a rounded end and cusped top. Each soldier wears a cuirass with overlapping leather plates, secured with a belt around the waist. The face of each has clearly defined smiling features. The fired clay body is of uniformly dark grey colour.

 It is unusual to find pottery figures of soldiers modelled in an active rather than a purely frontal stance. A clue to the missing weapons which the figures would have held in their right fists is given by a moulded pottery tile from a Six Dynasties tomb at Dengxian, in southern Henan, which shows four soldiers quite similar to the present ones, marching in formation holding their shields with one hand, and with the other holding either a staff or a long bow over their shoulders. The tile is illustrated by Annette Juliano, Teng-Hsien, An Important Six Dynasties Tomb, fig.45.

Priestley & Ferraro, 'Recent Acquisitions', November 2004, no. 3 

Dimensions: Height: 17.2cm,. 6 3/4 inches

Date: Northern Wei Dynasty (386-535), first quarter of 6th century, north central China, Henan or Shaanxi

Stock No. 1026

Price: On Request