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Chinese Han Dynasty Terracotta Turtle

AGE: – Han Dynasty 206 BCE – 220 CE
CONSTRUCTION: – Terracotta
DESCRIPTION: – Chinese Han Dynasty Terracotta Turtle – corner chipped smaller chips around rim

HEIGHT: – 14cm
LENGTH: – 38cm
WIDTH: – 26cm
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61a

Chinese Han Dynasty Terracotta Turtle, possibly made for funerary purposes. The practice of burying an objects such as this would appear to be meaningless to those in the west, but in China, especially so during neolithic times animals were highly significant for their livelihood, consumption, farming or mode of transport and their respect for animals that served them in life was often reflected in their burial rites.

It was during the Han Dynasty that the twelve animals found in the Chinese zodiac came into existence. Although the turtle is not one found in the Chinese zodiac it is however to the Chinese an important and significant creature and is often seen on memorial stones with the memorial tablet emerging from the back of the turtle listing the accomplishments of the departed.

The turtle is also found in all Feng Shui shops, sold as small ornamental figures made from jade or metal meant to bring all the believed qualities of the turtle to the owner. The significance of the turtle to the Chinese is symbolic of endurance, wealth, wisdom and long life and is believed hold the secret of heaven and earth.

The turtle is sometimes used as a memorial with a stone tablet engraved with a list of accomplishments of the deceased extending upwards from the shell of the turtle.

Sadly, in China even in present times many parts of the turtle and tortoise are also used in traditional Chinese Medicine for consumption to impart the qualities of the turtle to the consumer. Hopefully this practice will eventually cease.

Chinese Han Dynasty Terracotta Turtle

Chinese Han Dynasty Terracotta Turtle

Back view Chinese Han Dynasty Terracotta Turtle

Front view Chinese Han Dynasty Terracotta Turtle

Base view Chinese Han Dynasty Terracotta Turtle

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