While a number of pottery figures of dancers have been found in Han Dynasty tomb retinues, figures of this size are rare. The overall outstanding quality of this figure would indicate that it was made for the tomb of a high-ranking noble.
Wearing a traditional shen yi, which consisted of two layered robes belted with a silk sash, this graceful figure is caught in a pose while performing the long-sleeve dance (chongxiu). Until the end of the Warring States Period, such dance performances were strictly relegated by law, and limited to banquets and festive occasions held by the court and upper classes. During the Han period, the rules governing dancing were relaxed and the practice enjoyed a wider public.
Compare a similar figure of a female dancer performing the long-sleeve dance, excavated in Bajiakou, near X'ian, Shaanxi province, illustrated by J. Rawson, Mysteries of Ancient China, New York, 1996, p. 206, no. 108.
The result of Oxford Authentication Ltd. thermoluminescence test no. C103f20 is consistent with the dating of this lot.