In the late 6th Century, China was reunified under the Sui Dynasty. The Seven Books of Music were then created from the music and dance of the various peoples from areas of unified China. The books were expanded later in the Sui Dynasty to include the music and dance of the Shule and Samarkand, thus creating the Nine Books of Music. This was finally expanded to form ten books under Emperor Taizong during the Tang dynasty, and it is to this period that these dancers are dated. The collections of dances performed at the imperial court reflected the diverse and cosmopolitan nature of the Tang Dynasty’s influences. Music and dance from India, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and other states bordering Tang China would have been performed at the imperial capital, Chang’an, with performers and dancers in native costume. The Tang imperial court sought out the top dancing talent from around the country to perform the dances.
The Chinese Tang Dynasty was preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the periods of the ‘Five Dynasties’ and ‘Ten Kingdoms’. It is generally regarded as a high point in Chinese civilisation, and a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. The extent of its territory, which was secured by the military campaigns of its early rulers, rivalled that of the Han dynasty. In addition, the Tang capital at Chang’an (present-day Xi’an) was the most populous city in the world.
NB. Price is for the pair of dancers