Han Dynasty 206 B.C. – 220 A.D.
Chinese Han Dynasty Ming qi Funerary Objects
Chinese Han Dynasty Ming qi Funerary Objects – a popular form of ritual which involved placing miniature or life size objects that were used, eaten, enjoyed or represented the importance of a person or animal to the departed soul whilst still alive. These objects accompanied him or her into the burial chamber to bring comfort and familiarity on their journey into the afterlife.
It was, and still is strongly believed by the Chinese that there is an afterlife, and that the deceased should enjoy the same respect and care given to him or her when they were alive, into the afterlife. Ancestor worship is still vibrant in China and practiced by the Chinese in many others parts of South East Asia today.
Some belief systems aimed to prolong life, others to provide for a continuation of life in the tomb, still others assumed the presence of immortal kingdoms to which the soul was transported. The Chinese distinguished two different elements of the soul Hun and Po. In the physical life Hun was the intellectual or spiritual soul, Po dealt with the energy and movement of the physical body.
After death these two elements of the soul would separate, Po stays with the body after death and Hun leaves the body after death.
The material comforts which were enjoyed in the lifetime of the departed were placed inside the burial chamber with the departed, ensuring that they were provided for in death in much the same way they were provided for in life. Almost anything one can imagine was crafted specifically for burial in miniature or life size form to provide all the comforts and enjoyments the departed experienced on the earthly plane.
A variety of ming qi objects such as earthenware or terracotta vessels which held wine or water, or those that may have been used in rituals, cooking vessels, miniature replica animal forms that would have been used for traveling or work, such as the camel, horse or bullock or farm animals that may have been used in agriculture.
During the Han Dynasty Ming qi funerary objects were mostly made in both miniature and life size form. During the Qin dynasty just prior to the Han Dynasty the first emperor executed thousands of life size replicas of soldiers, horses and chariots to accompany him into the afterlife. The most famous examples are the terracotta army.