Striking for its fluid exaggerated pose, the present stylized figure represents the fully developed bronze sculptural tradition of the Han dynasty (206 BC - 221 AD). Filled with lead or clay, such figures were produced in sets of four and served to hold down mats for seating and for playing liubo
. One such set of figures, excavated from tomb no. 1 at Fujiagou, Lingtai county, Gansu province and now in the Lingtai County Cultural Center, is illustrated in The Great Treasury of Chinese Fine Arts. Sculpture of the Qin and Han Dynasties
, vol. 2, Beijing, 1988, pl. 75, where the figures are described as dice players. Another complete set in the Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels, is illustrated in Christian Deydier, Chinese Bronzes
, New York, 1980, pl. 102; and another in the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo, is illustrated in Ancient Chinese Arts in the Idemitsu Collection
, Tokyo, 1989, pl. 253. A fourth complete set was sold in our London rooms, 5th December 1995, lot 20.
Individual weights cast in similar pose to the present example include two in the exhibition Kandai no Bijutsu [Arts of the Han Dynasty], Osaka Municipal Museum, 1974, cat. nos 2-169 and 2-170. The latter was previously sold in our London rooms, 11th July 1972, lot 281, and then sold again in the same rooms, 7th June 1988, lot 5. Further examples include one sold in these rooms, 6th April 1982, lot 23; and another sold at Christie's New York, 2nd December 1986, lot 330.