Duhaime's LawGallery - The Law In Pictures


Evil Court Clerk, China

  • Object type: Sculpture
  • Formal Title: Stoneware figure from a judgment group with aubergine, green, ochre and straw gazes
  • Creator: Unknown Chinese artist
  • Date Created: 1500
  • Origin: China
  • Current Location: British Museum, London

This sculpture or "figurine", depicts an evil court clerk.

It was created in a Confucian China (about 1550), during the Ming Dynasty.

The Court clerk, or judge's assistant, holds under his arm scrolls upon which are recorded the evil decisions of his master.

The colours of the assistant's face and dress are chosen to strike fear, as is his sideways and mean-spirited gaze.

Law and justice was important to China, then balancing Confucianism and legalism.

The combination of a legal theme and the underworld helped keep society orderly by bringing to a mostly illiterate population a constant fear of Hell, which evil led to. The punishment of crime was as brutal in China, circa 1500, as it was in the known history of man.


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