AGE: – Ming dynasty 1368 A.D. – 1644 A.D.
CONSTRUCTION: – Terracotta
DESCRIPTION: – Chinese Ming Dynasty Glazed Terracotta Table Offerings
HEIGHT: – 13cm
DEPTH: – 26.5CM
WEIGHT:– 2.75 kg.
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Chinese Ming Dynasty Glazed Terracotta Table Offerings made for funerary purposes. From ancient times it was a common practice for the Chinese to bury miniature replicas of objects, utilitarian and ornamental objects with the deceased. These objects are referred to as Ming qi or spirit object. Usually these were of a practical nature used or favoured by the deceased during his/her lifetime. This practice was taken to extremes by royalty or the wealthiest people. One of these example being the famous terracotta worriers made for Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.
Items such as this Ming Dynasty table with food offerings were buried with a departed soul in the belief that they could enjoy their favorite foods and the comfort of eating at the table in the afterlife as they did whilst living.
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The more common items offered to assist the average deceased person into the other world were practical utilitarian objects such as cooking utensils, miniature replicas of their houses, horses and working animals, as well as a range of furniture and other items made from terracotta. The wealthy and those of royal lineage were buried with more lavish items, such as jade, jewellery and objects made from gold, jade and silver, paintings and books.
During the Shang Dynasty and up until the Han dynasty it was common practice to offer human lives such as servants, wives or concubines and sometimes animals accompanied the departed soul into the other world, ensuring that all the pleasures he or she enjoyed whilst living would continue into the afterlife.
The sacrifice of people and animals killed and interred with the deceased is referred to as “immolation” meaning to kill as a sacrifice, or to kill oneself by fire, and was popular during the Shang period 1523-1028 B.C.
This practice declined during the Han Dynasty, whereupon, production of funerary ceramics and terracotta objects such as this table with offerings were the more popular form of offerings to accompany the average person into the afterlife.