Chinese, clay, Tang Dynasty, AD 618–906
The 54.8cm-tall male figure is another specimen from Freud’s extensive collection of antiques from all over the world. The Chinese warrior is wearing a long garment, armour and a helmet. Figures of this kind served as guardians of the dead in men’s graves in the Chinese empire – Freud’s “bearded warrior” echoes those monumental terracotta grave figures that date back to the second century before Christ. Such warrior figures are, however, known in very different sizes from different dynasties. This and another sculpture, also Chinese, from the same dynasty, now kept in London, stood on a glass display case in Freud’s treatment room to the right of the entrance to his study. It is one of the few figures on which Freud himself is known to have commented: in his diary for 6 October 1931 he noted the purchase of a Tang figure, probably this one, among other items. The figure is currently on show in the treatment room in roughly the same place in the context of its presentation as in Freud’s day.
(Text amended based on Lydia Marinelli, “Meine ... alten und dreckigen Götter – Aus Sigmund Freuds Sammlung” exhibition catalogue, Vienna 2000, p. 149. See also Sigmund Freud, “Kürzeste Chronik – Tagebuch 1929-1939”, Frankfurt/Main 1992, p. 38)