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Home > Auctions > 21st February 2023 > Chinese Tang Cuju Football Player Pair

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LOT 0411

GBP (£) 4,000 - 6,000
EUR (€) 4,520 - 6,790
USD ($) 4,930 - 7,390

Opening Bid
£3,960 (EUR 4,479; USD 4,879) (+bp*)

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Bid History: 0

TANG DYNASTY, 618-907 A.D.
15 1/8 - 16 3/4 in. (6.85 kg total, 38.5-42.5 cm high).

A pair of ceramic male figures modelled standing in dynamic poses, likely playing a game of cuju, each wearing a floor-length robe and balancing a ball on one foot; one figure leaning forwards with his arms held behind his back, looking down towards the ball balanced on the end of his raised right foot; one figure moving his arms in opposite directions in an attempt to regain his balance, head leaning left, his right leg bent across his body at the knee, balancing a ball on the heel of his foot; each with semi-naturalistic facial features and hair tied in a top knot; extensive remains of polychrome pigmentation. [2]

Ex Hong Kong collection.
London Mayfair gallery, UK.

Accompanied by thermoluminescence analysis report nos. C122k26 and C122k25 from Oxford Authentication.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by search certificate number no.11697-199217.

See Prodan, M., The Art of the Tang Potter, London, 1960, for similarly styled figures and discussion; see the Fifa Museum online for discussion and historical depictions of the game in various media.

Cuju is the earliest recorded game of football which involved kicking a ball through a net without the use of the hands.