Chinese Western Han Pair of Rabbits Mingqi


A Chinese Western Han Dynasty pair of two hollow-moulded terracotta rabbits, portrayed in an extremely naturalistic manner, characteristic of the Western Han Dynasty artistic practise. One rabbit is modelled in a recumbent pose, with its head pointing forward and ears pricked back, while the other is presented squatting, slightly twisting its heard facing frontal. Its forelimbs are slightly extended at an elegant angle, supporting the weight of its erect upper body. Facial features, such as eyes, ears and mouths of both animals, are picked out in pinkish-red and black pigments. Their mouths are further decorated with few confident brush strokes, intimating rabbit whiskers. The original pigments are still perfectly visible to the statuettes’ surfaces. Such colours would have been applied after firing, with the result that they would have been more prone to flaking. However, in this case, the original colours have preserved themselves extremely fine, maintaining their original brightness.

N.B. This item will require additional postage charges after checkout due to weight and size. The price listed is for the pair.

Date: Circa 202 BC-9 AD
Period: Western Han Dynasty
Condition: Extremely fine, with original pigmentation visible to the surface. The pair has been thermoluminescence tested at Laboratory Kotalla.


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. Rabbits were popular animals in Ancient China, not only as symbols of longevity and cleverness, but were also believed to be symbols of the moon.

To discover more about Chinese terracotta statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.

Weight 3000 g
Dimensions L 29 x W 17.5 x H 30.5 cm

Pottery and Porcelain