In Ancient China, terracotta unglazed and low-fired glazed statuettes of animals and human figures, known in Chinese as mingqi, would have been placed in the deceased’s tomb to ensure companionship and service in the afterlife. Mingqi were usually modelled as an intimation of either common objects that once played a vital role in Han Dynasty domestic life, or as zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures that were closely related to the deceased when they were alive. Zoomorphic terracotta figurines, such as this beautiful pair of rabbits, with naturalistically rendered features and details, had been absent in Chinese burial history until the advent of the Western Han Dynasty. Pottery images of dogs were popular in Han graves, since the dog was believed to be the best companion for the deceased. In this case, however, the dogs have been portrayed with fearsome features, act to evil spirits within the tomb, thereby protecting the deceased at rest in their afterlife.
To discover more about Chinese terracotta statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.