AGE: – Possibly Shang dynasty (1766 to 1122 BC)
CONSTRUCTION: – Earthenware
DESCRIPTION: – Pale Grey Chinese Neolithic Earthenware Pottery – handle missing and the ears damaged
HEIGHT: – 23cm
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Pale Grey Chinese Neolithic Earthenware Pottery thought to be that of a dog, but to us more than likely a pig. Heads and jaws of pigs were frequently buried with the dead as symbols of wealth. This pottery has a trace of yellow coloured pigments on the neck and a faint pattern showing the outline of a collar around the neck. Traces of a greenish glaze still remain on the tail section which would indicate that this object was once glazed or partially glazed.
It would appear from the soot still adhering to the body that this pottery would have been used at some point in the distant past over a fire, presumably for heating liquids. An effort by someone endeavoring to remove the soot has exposed the outline of some of the artwork underneath.
There were several groups of neolithic communities that lived along the Yellow River in the provinces of Shanxi, Henan and Shaanxi from 4100 BC up until 2600 BC. These groups of neolithic people were referred to as Dawenkou and Longshan cultures. This particular piece of pottery is more than likely dating to the later Neolithic period, we are not sure.
The dog to the people of ancient China was a symbol of bonding, loyalty and trust. They were used as guards, hunters and were often presented to Emperors. There is evidence to suggest that the dog was first domesticated in the East in Neolithic China rather than the Western world. Whereas, the pig was a staple in the diet of these cultures as well as being of high value in trade.
The Dawenkou people cultivated millet and domesticated pigs and other livestock. The pig was also a symbol of wealth and the heads and jaws of pigs were frequently buried with the dead.