This terracotta tile reflects the typical features of a Han tradition (also known as huaxiangzhuang). Ancient Han terracotta funerary painted tiles are part of the wide burial offering category known as Mingqi. Differing from its zoomorphic and human figurines counterparts that were displayed in the tombs, funerary tiles were employed to decorate the tombs’ internal spaces with the purpose of comforting and satisfying decedents’ spiritual path in their afterlife. Funerary tiles were normally decorated with either zoomorphic images or narrative scenes where human figures are presented with animals to display idyllic romance or an honourable warrior parade. Images, presented on these decorative tiles, reflect a tomb-owner’s personal taste and their previous lifestyle. Employing highly decorated bricks or tiles to furnish tombs has been one of the most important burial aspects since the Han Dynasty. It also reflects the traditional Chinese belief, where the afterlife is a great extension to people’s real life.
Western Han Terracotta Funerary Painted Tile with a Phoenix in Relief
A finely moulded Western Han terracotta funerary painted tile in a triangular shape, presenting a winged-phoenix soaring against a painted background. The phoenix is naturalistically sculpted in relief, with its wings fully stretched while turning its head to face the rear. Its facial features and feathers are meticulously rendered in detailed incisions. Reddish-orange pigments remain visible to the surface.
Period: The Western Han Dynasty
Provenance: From the collection of a West Country gentleman, formed in 1970s.
Condition: Good condition, with original pigments visible to the surface. Uneven edges with some abrasions to the reverse. Right-side corner has been repaired.