Female Dancer

Period: Western Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 9)

Date: 2nd century B.C.

Culture: China

Medium: Earthenware with slip and pigment

Dimensions: H. 21 in. (53.3 cm); W. 9 3/4 in. (24.8 cm); D. 7 in. (17.8 cm)

Classification: Tomb Pottery

Credit Line: Charlotte C. and John C. Weber Collection, Gift of Charlotte C. and John C. Weber, 1992

Accession Number: 1992.165.19


This figure vividly captures the moment when, with one long sleeve thrown back and the other trailing down, a dancer gently stoops and flexes her knees as she lifts one heel to advance her step, performing a dance described in Han dynasty poetry:

“Their long sleeves, twirling and twisting,
fill the hall;
Gauze-stocking feet…taking mincing steps,
Move with slow and easy gait
They hover about long and continuous, as if
Stopped in mid-air;
Dazed, one thinks they are about to fall…”