A BRONZE ANTROPOMORPHIC OIL LAMP
China, Han dynasty
The figure modeled in the round, kneeling, the bare bust, a wide belt with engraved geometric decoration, the right arm bent at the elbow and raised to the chest with the hand holding a small cone, the left arm also folded and raised upwards to support a low cylindrical dish, another small cone in the center of the skull, covered with curly hair, the detailed engraved face with mustache and beard.
16,7 cm high
Provenance : Fabrizio Savi collection, acquired from a private collector in Bruxelles between 1995 and 2000.
Anthropomorphic sculptures of this type, usually used as a support for oil fires, have been produced in China since the Warring States Period, including the specimen found in Pingshan, Hebei province, and dating from the 4th century B.C. (Guolong Lai, Uses of the Human Figure in Early Chinese Art, in “Chinese Bronzes. Selected articles from Orientations 1983-2000”, Hong Kong 2001, pp. 326-332, fig. 10), and the three pieces published in the catalogue of exhibition Chogoku Sengoku Jidai no Bijutsu (The Art of Warring States Period), Osaka 1991, p. 81, n. 99. This production continued even during the Han dynasty, although figures of this type remain rather rare. A part of these later figurative bronzes, also often used as supports for lamps, shows physical characteristics - such as the curling of the hair and the small clothing, elements that are found in the piece presented here - reminiscent of members of foreign and barbarian populations (hu) (see for example the item already in the collection of Anthony and Susan Hardy, illustrated in Li Xueqin, The Glorious Traditions of Chinese Bronzes, Singapore 2000, n. 99).
* Scientific analyzes carried out on 3/7/2000 by the Brussels Art Laboratory. Nuclear Section. Institut
Superieur Industriel de Bruxelles confirm the proposed dating.