Funerary Urn (Hunping)

Period: Western Jin dynasty (265–316)

Culture: China

Medium: Stoneware with olive green glaze (Yue ware)

Dimensions: H. 17 7/8 in. (45.4 cm); W. 11 15/16 in. (30.3 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Charlotte C. and John C. Weber Collection, Gift of Charlotte C. and John C. Weber, 1992

Accession Number: 1992.165.21


One modern theory about the use of this elaborately modeled urn is that it may have been intended to serve as an eternal dwelling place for the soul of the deceased. It is topped with a heavenly palatial structure held aloft by a flock of birds. Auspicious animals, including an elephant and a deer, surround the palace. To ensure its efficacy, this Daoist vision of paradise is ringed with a row of Buddhas seated in meditation on lion thrones with lotus petals. These are among the earliest Buddhist images known in China, and their presence on this vessel indicates how Buddhism was gradually integrated into indigenous belief systems.