Western Han Dynasty Terracotta Funerary Roof Tiles with Horses


A fine pair of Western Han Dynasty terracotta funerary tiles, each featuring a horse moulded in relief, capturing the spirit of the fabled Han “celestial horses”. The tiles’ frontal fields are enriched with stylised cloud-scrolls, a formal Han decorative motif formed by convoluted and curvilinear ribbons. The pieces retain part of their original pigments, which would have been applied after firing, with the result that the paint would have been more prone to flaking. Such tiles would have framed a central squared or rectangular piece and decorated the roof of a burial site.

N.B. These items will require additional postage charges after checkout due to weight and size.

Date: Circa 202 BC-AD 9
Period: Western Han Dynasty
Condition: Good condition, earthy encrustations remain on the surface. Please see individual descriptions for detailed information.
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SKU: MG-207 Category: Tags: , ,

Terracotta funerary tiles are part of the wide burial offering category known as Mingqi  (冥器). Differing from their zoomorphic and human figurines counterparts, funerary tiles decorated the tombs’ internal spaces with the purpose of comforting and satisfying the deceased in the afterlife. They were normally decorated with zoomorphic images or narrative scenes portraying idyllic romance and honourable warrior parades to reflect the deceased’s personal taste and lifestyle. Employing highly decorated bricks or tiles to furnish the tombs have been one of the most important burial aspects since the Han Dynasty, reflecting the ancient Chinese spiritual realm where the afterlife is an extension to human life. Pictorial tiles, bricks and stones with distinctive decorative features have been unearthed in many Chinese provinces.

To discover more about horses in Chinese culture, read our relevant blog post: The Horse in Chinese Art and Culture.

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Pottery and Porcelain

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