Exhibitions/ Art Object

西汉 铜漏壶
Water Clock

Western Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 9)
Overall H. 20 5/8 in. (52.4 cm); Diam. 8 1/4 in. (20.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Lent by Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology
Not on view
This water clock originally had a gauge incised with lines marking divisions of time. Probably made of wood or bamboo, the gauge was inserted into the hole in the cover and floated on the water. As the water drained at a constant rate through the tube at the bottom, the gauge sank steadily, allowing the time to be read at each mark. Water clocks were kept in every office throughout the empire. Beginning in Qin times, officials were required to note the date and time of all incoming and outgoing correspondence and to record this information on the documents themselves.
Excavated from burial pit no.4 of Tomb no. 8 at the burial site of the Zhang Family, Fengxiyuan, Xi’an, Shaanxi, 2009 (2009 年陕西省西安市南郊凤栖原汉家族墓地M8出土)

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C.–A.D. 200)," April 3, 2017–July 16, 2017.

Khayutina, Maria, ed. Qin: the Eternal Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors [exhibition catalogue]. Zurich: Bernisches Historisches Museum and Neue Zurcher Zeitung Publishing, 2013: cat. no. 190.