Figure of a Foreign Tribute Bearer

Historical period(s)
Probably Ming dynasty, 7th century or later
H x W x D: 6.3 x 5.9 x 3.5 cm (2 1/2 x 2 5/16 x 1 3/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Jade, Sculpture


China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)
Provenance research underway.

The date of origin of this muscular figure has traditionally been attributed to the Tang dynasty (618-907), an age when foreigners freely mingled in the Chinese capital and were a popular art subject. Currently the date of this object is being reconsidered. Stylistic details, including the shape of the vessel the figure holds, suggest this exceptionally fine piece of jade was worked in the first half of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

The figure holds a vessel whose opening at the top may have been used to hold a stick of incense. The bottom of the jade also has small perforations and a broken-off metal pin, suggesting that it was previously attached to a base. Perhaps this figure once belonged to a larger Buddhist votive image, a type of object that often included depictions of foreigners holding offerings to the Buddha. 

Published References
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 77, p. 122.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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