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Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) China
Head of a civil official 976 Place made: Henan province, China
Materials & Technique: sculptures, limestone
Dimensions: 70.0 h x 40.0 w x 48.0 d cm ; weight 223 kg
Acknowledgement: Gift of TT Tsui, Hong Kong, through the National Gallery of Australia Foundation 1995
Accession No: NGA 95.574
  • The chain of ownership for this object is being reviewed and further research is underway. The provenance information listed has been substantiated by documentation. Details may be refined and updated as research progresses.
  • likely created at or near Yong Changling, Gongyi, Henan Province, China, 976
  • acquired by TT Tsui, Hong Kong, between 1981-93 and 1995
  • who gave it to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 1995

During the Ming dynasty, monumental stone sculptures of animals and civil and military officials lined the avenues to imperial tombs. This carved head with the austere face of a senior court official was originally part of one of these larger than life sculptures. His neatly groomed moustache and plump solemn face suggest wealth, affluence and power. As statues of this type were associated with the royal courts, it was essential that they appeared to overwhelm and dominate the populace.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label