Many types of pottery dancing figures have been retrieved from Han tombs, but examples of this large size with finely sculpted naturalistic details, are relatively rare. The performance of ritual dance during Han was a court prerogative, and the number of dancers permitted to each noble was regulated according to his rank and merit.
This thin elegant dancer is dressed in the traditional shen-i garment; long and layered robes with oversized sleeves. She captures the stately motion and austere spirit of the "sleeve-tossing dance" style (chang-hsiu wu) which featured a continuous, controlled and coordinated movement of the long sleeves.
The Han dynasty writer Ch'ang Hung (78-139) described this dance form in one of his poems:
Their vermilion slippers danced between plates and goblets
And they waved their long, dangling sleeves
With a curvaceous, cultivated bearing
Their lovely dresses fluttered like flowers in the wind.