These figures would have been displayed amongst the processional group within a tomb, most likely before a sedan chair or palanquin and before the musician figures. They would have served a ceremonial purpose – to announce the arrival of the tomb occupant. The palanquin, likewise, would have been used in the next life, carrying the deceased on his journey.
The Ming dynasty played host to some of China’s most renowned artistic achievements – famed, of course, for its vases, but also works such as Shen Zhou’s ‘Lofty Mount Lu’. The culture’s artistic explosion can be in part explained by the Ming dynasty’s economic success.