Originally part of a monumental statue, this head of an official is typical of late Song to early Ming-dynasty sculpture. With stern features and a piercing gaze, the official wears a hat bearing the faint remains of a cartouche. The figure in the cartouche is possibly a rabbit, suggesting the image was associated with Daoism. Images of the twelve animal symbols of the zodiac were a popular part of Daoist imagery. Long rows of large stone sculptures of civil and military dignitaries lined the avenues to the great Song and Ming-dynasty tombs. They demonstrate a dedication to administration in the afterlife, as well as in the living world.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label