AGE: – Han Dynasty 220 – 280 AD
HEIGHT: – 28cm
BASE DIAM: 18cm
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Han dynasty Mingqi Funerary vessel cold painted white and orange, with orange coloured fish motive and decorative lip on top of a curved neck.
The Han dynasty was considered the golden age in Chinese history. It was divided into two main periods, the Western Han 206BCE-9 CE and Eastern Han 25-220 CE.
The practice of burying objects with the deceased in burial chambers or mounds date back to Neolithic times. These burial chambers have given a deeper understanding and insight into the lifestyle and status of the people who lived during these ancient times.
During the Western Han period burial goods and art objects were often used in everyday life whilst the person was still living. Whereas, Eastern Han wares and artworks were usually made exclusively for burial, made specifically to serve the needs of the deceased in the afterlife, and were never used in their daily life whilst they were alive.
Utilitarian vessels resembling this one, if not made for burial would more than likely have been used to hold water or wine. During the Han dynasty a myriad of objects were placed inside burial chambers with the departed. Miniature earthenware farm animals, houses, horses, granaries, in fact almost any conceivable object that would have been used in daily life were reproduced in miniature form to accompany the departed soul into the afterlife.
It was believed that these objects would bring the soul of the deceased comfort and a sense of familiarity whilst journeying into and on his arrival in the other life, making it less likely that he or she would remain earth bound or become a hungry ghost.
These funerary objects were also referred to as mingqi, “brilliant artefacts” or “fearsome artefacts”.
The burial chambers during the Han dynasty period in which the deceased along with these objects were places was also made to resemble a home comparable to the style and size of the walled courtyard homes seen above ground.