found @ an estate sale (i go to one about every week)was wondering if you could tell me whom this figurine may respresent? emperor or maybe an officer of an emperor (im going by his hat)? and what would have been his role in the culture. i don't know if its chinese or japanese but would like some reference tools on how to find out. thank you
I'm glad to answer a question about Chinese history and culture. The mudman you pictured is really fun.
At first, yes, this mudman represents a Chinese man, and more precisely, a man in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). As you can see, it leaves long braids and wears mandarin jacket. The ruler of Qing Dynasty is Manchu, Manchu rulers require their people to obey their own custom, such as male person must leave braids. In that period, wearing the mandarin jacket is a symbol of notable life, so this mudman would share high notablity and lead a comfort life.
As your question "emperor or maybe an officer of an emperor (im going by his hat)?". Though you can't judge by certain that this model is emperor, it's still very likely an emperor. You see the mudman wears an yellow skirt, in anciant China, yellow color symbolizes the highest place and power; and the "green medal" inlaid in his hat is jade, which also a symbol of noble. But sometimes, the emperor may award his meritorious vassal with the yellow wearings.
By the way, this clothing is 常服(Changfu, the clothes used in normal living), when it comes formal situation, the attendants (incl. emperor) should wear 礼服(Lifu, the formal dress).
It's my third answer in AE, and I hope it can do you a favor. Thank you.