Figures of similar style to this large and handsome example were excavated from the tomb of Wu Shouzhong, who was buried near the Tang capital, Xi'an, Shaanxi province, in AD 748. See The Quest for Eternity - Chinese Ceramic Sculptures from the People's Republic of China, Los Angeles County Museum, 1987, nos. 83 and 84. The reign of Emperor Ming Huang seems to have heralded the growth in popularity of a more generous female form and the adoption of less structured, flowing robes. This change in style has traditionally been attributed to the influence of the emperor's adored concubine Yang Guifei, who was reported to have had a rather voluptuous figure. However, excavated figures suggest that the fashion for more voluptuous figures was already coming to prominence by the time that Yang Guifei won the emperor's admiration.
The figures of this type usually hold their hands in front of them, in order to provide a more graceful arrangement of their sleeves. Some of them, such as the present example, have their hands completely hidden, as can be seen in three of the figures from the Schloss Collection. See J. Baker, Seeking Immortality - Chinese Tomb Sculpture from the Schloss Collection, Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, Santa Ana, 1996, p. 34, no. 17.
The dress and coiffure of the present example are very similar to those of ladies depicted in murals on the walls of tomb no. 187, Astana, Turfan, which was excavated in 1972 and is now preserved in the Xinjiang Museum. See The Ancient Art in Xinjiang, China, Urumqi, 1994, p. 87, pls. 213 and 215.
The result of Oxford Authentication Ltd. thermoluminescence test no. C103k97 is consistent with the dating of this lot.