Terracotta figure of fat lady with dog, Chine, Tang Dynasty, 618-906 A.D.
Example of a Chinese terracotta figure from the Tang dynasty of a ‘Fat Lady’, dressed in a long, richly decorated robe that falls to her feet in heavy folds, enhancing her graceful figure. Her hands are tucked into her sleeves, holding a dog. She has a highly detailed face, with ruby cheeks and her hair is tied up in a pretty bun. The eyes are elongated, the pointed nose, dimpled chin and sharply carved, red-painted mouth are distinctive features that mark the unique aesthetic taste of the Tang dynasty. Her heavily painted eyebrows are drawn as low as the Chinese eight (Ba). The lady rests on a flat base with rounded edges.
The origin of the depictions of ‘fat ladies’ goes back to the imperial concubine Yang Gui Fei, who was considered one of the great beauties of the Tang dynasty and the favourite concubine of Emperor Xuanzong. The ‘fat ladies’ have always been considered a source for studying the evolution of women’s costumes and aesthetic changes in the various stages of the Tang dynasty and Chinese history in general, due to their representation of an ideal of beauty typical of the period.