Tang Dynasty Terracotta Polo Player

This is a rare piece of terracotta pottery from the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD). Statues such as this one are the earliest depictions of polo players in any art form. Such statues are rare primarily because polo was the sport of choice of the affluent few - much like it still is today. These figures were often buried in the tombs of the wealthy as they believed that the figures would come to life to serve the deceased in the afterlife. The higher the social status of the person buried, the more such figures would be in their tomb. A single burial of a member of the imperial family could contain hundreds of such items. Sadly, this type of pottery all but disappeared around 755 AD when the Lushan Rebellion affected production in the two areas with the majority of the kilns: Henan and Hebei.