AGE: – Han Dynasty 206 B.C. – 220 A.D.
CONSTRUCTION: – Earthenware
DESCRIPTION: – Chinese Han Dynasty Ming Qi Stemmed Lidded Bowl
HEIGHT: – 24cm
BASE DIAMETER: – 8cm
WEIGHT: – 1.55 kg.
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Chinese Han Dynasty Ming Qi Stemmed Lidded Bowl dating to Han Dynasty. In China it was a common practice to place earthenware and Terracotta objects such as this wine or water vessel along with other ming qi funerary objects into a burial chamber with the deceased. It was believed that placing these objects alongside the departed would provide that which they enjoyed in the earthly world, thus appeasing the soul and making the transition into the afterlife less alien to them. Appeasing the soul made it less likely to return to earth in the form of a “hungry ghost“.
The Chinese believe that the soul has two distinct parts, the soul that remaines with the person at the time of death, and the one that travels with them into the afterlife. The soul that traveled into the afterlife was provided with the necessities he or she enjoyed in life such as money, food, and drink. Whereas, the physical body which remained in the tomb was provided with the luxurious and comforts he enjoyed whilst living.
From the Shang dynasty period approximately 1766 to 1122 BC, (dates depend on different sources), and up until the end of the Qin Dynasty dating from 221 to 206 BC, human sacrifice was not uncommon. Living sacrifices could include concubines, wives, horses, a beloved pet or any other living thing that the departed was fond of.
The great sage Kong Fuzi better known as Confucius (551- 479 BCE), was highly distressed by the existing feudal systems and constant warfare between the warring Chinese states. He endeavored to bring to an end the ritual practice of human sacrifice by teaching peace, harmony and morality, as well as bringing a measure of law and order. However, there is evidence that human sacrifice was still practiced up until the end of the Qin dynasty (221 – 206 BC.)
Human sacrifice ceased completely during the Han dynasty after the revival of Confucianism. Animal sacrifice still continued during the Han Dynasty and beyond. The placing of objects referred to as Ming qi into the burial chamber alongside the dead became even more popular.
This practice encouraged a thriving industry in the making of mortuary objects during the Han dynasty. The most common Ming qi objects were miniature earthenware human-like figures, dancing ladies, animals, wine and water vessels, replicas of houses, animal enclosures, granaries and furniture as well as ornamental ceramics.