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Mingqi

CHINESE TOMB FIGURINES

BY
WILLEM CLAESSEN

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Tomb figurines of dwarfs

Throughout history dwarfs were sought as attendants and entertainers by kings and nobles. They were known in the palaces of the Pharaoh from the earliest dynasties. In more recent times many achieved positions as favorites at various European courts. It is probale that the " Sons of Heaven", the rulers of the Tang Empire, also had dwarfs among their retinu. Dwarf entertainers, actors, jugglers and dancers were known to have performed in the palaces of Ch'ang-an, the capitol of the Tang Empire. These dwarfs were brought to China from all over Asia.

Emperor Wu Ti (A.D. 502-550) was fond on dwarfs and employed them in his palace as servants and jesters. Every year several hundred were brought to the capital. In A.D. 724 a Sumatran prince sent to Ch'ang-an for the "Son of Heaven" from Scriviya (Sumatra) many rare gifts including two dwarfs.