Figures of this large size with such fine modelling are rare and the overall outstanding quality would indicate that it was made for the tomb of a high-ranking noble.
Although the figure is not in an explicit dancing pose, the dress reminds us of those of the long-sleeve dance (chongxiu) performers. 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 other figures in dancing positions in the exhibition, Ancient Chinese Ceramics and Tomb Sculpture, J. J. Lally & Co., New York, 20 March-8 April 2000, no. 12 and cover; for a figure of a female dancer performing the long-sleeve dance, excavated in Bajiakou, near Xi'an, 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. C103f16 is consistent with the dating of this lot.