Set of Twelve Zodiac Animals, Earthenware with white slip, China

唐 陶十二生肖俑
Set of Twelve Zodiac Animals

Tang dynasty (618–907)
8th century
Earthenware with white slip
Each approx. H. 12 in. (30.5 cm); W. 4 in. (10.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Charlotte C. Weber, 2000
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 207
Groups of these animals, which represent the Chinese calendar’s twelve-year cycle, first appeared in the third century B.C. As burial practices became more elaborate, pottery figures of the creatures wearing official robes became popular tomb offerings, presumably as symbols of renewal and regeneration. These figures were once painted with colorful pigments, but only the white slip, which usually served as a base for decoration, has survived.
Charlotte C. Weber , Ocala, FL and New York, NY (until 2000; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Monkey Business: Celebrating the Year of the Monkey," January 8, 2016–July 24, 2016.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Celebrating the Year of the Rooster," January 25, 2017–July 4, 2017.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Celebrating the Year of the Dog," January 19, 2018–July 4, 2018.