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Covered Jar (Hu)

Period:
Western Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 9)
Date:
1st century B.C.
Culture:
China
Medium:
Earthenware with painted decoration
Dimensions:
H. 22 1/8 in. (56.2 cm); Diam. 13 5/8 in. (34.6 cm)
Classification:
Ceramics
Credit Line:
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Tang Gift, 1986
Accession Number:
1986.170a, b
  • Description

    During the Warring States period (475–221 B.C.), jades, bronze, textiles, musical instruments, books and other luxuries were often placed in tombs to serve the needs of the deceased in the afterlife. In the early Han dynasty pottery models known as mingqi or "spirit goods" began to be produced as substitutes for more valuable possessions, and to provide figures of servants, entertainers, livestock, pets, and vessels and other necessities for the tomb. Made of low-fired earthenware and painted with chalky mineral pigments that flake off when handled, this covered jar is too porous to hold liquids. The swirling cloud-like designs covering the vessel are thought to represent celestial mists through which the deceased would travel to join the immortals.

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