Female Dancer, Western Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 9), 2nd century B.C.
Earthenware with slip and pigments; H. 21 in. (53.3 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
This is one of my favorite pieces at the MMA. I'm afraid it doesn't translate as well over the web as it does in person, but that is one of the hard things about looking at art (especially sculpture) in reproduction. She is an elegant figure, and though she is small, she is comprised of large, simple shapes which somehow combine to create a graceful pose. She is a dancer, and would have been one of many other figures placed in the tomb of a person most likely of high social standing and wealth. Not unlike the ancient Egyptians, ancient Chinese funerary customs centered on the belief and hope for an afterlife where one would need the same things one needed during life. Items could include attendants, entertainers, pets, and ceremonial vessels for food and drink. This person obviously wanted his afterlife to include a retinue of dancers like this one to entertain him in the afterlife.
This figure is made of clay, like many of the objects would be, although there could be items made of bronze and jade, too.
When I look at images of people "moving," like this dancer would be, I usually ask kids to try to imitate the pose. What's especially interesting about this dancer is her dress, with the long, wide sleeves. You could turn it into a movement experience by dressing your child (and you!) in a sheet or large cloak and trying to dance like the dancer in the sculpture.
For older children, trying to draw the figure by focusing on the large shapes within it is a fun exercise. You can also look at artworks of other dancers from other cultures and compare, or watch an actual dance. Watching a traditional Chinese dance routine would be the ultimate, I'd guess.
Gung hai fat choi! And a special New Year's greeting to those born in the year of the pig/boar. I always thought my brother was a pig, but it turns out he is a dog, since he was born in early January of 1971. He may still think he is a pig.
I hope everyone celebrating CNY has a great time together with their families and friends, hopefully eating loads of yummy food.