The human image is relatively rare in Bronze Age China, compared for example with the art of early Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indian subcontinent. When it does occur, usually the person depicted is markedly subordinate, taking such roles as bearer, attendant, functionary, captive or slave.
This kneeling bronze figure, about 25 cm high, is one of a group of bronze human images said to come from Eastern Zhou period tombs at Jincun near Luoyang, Henan province. Generally considered a servant or attendant, he has a broad face under hair held fast by a curious cap of tab and strings, the latter tied under the chin. His jacket is worn as men of today wear theirs, left over right. It is kept in place by a leather belt slotted for the stud and hook of an early form of the Chinese belthook. His legs are folded under him, with bare feet crossed under the buttocks at the back. He leans slightly forward, on his small mat or plinth. His hands meet to hold out before him a single cylinder. Open below, this was probably designed to hold the shaft of a bronze tomb lamp, for most such figures that are found complete hold lamps or, on occasion, incense burners.