Eastern Han Dynasty Terracotta Guardian Dog Figurine


A finely rendered hollow-moulded Eastern Han Dynasty grey terracotta figurine of a recumbent guardian dog. The dog’s facial features, such eyes, nose, mouth and whiskers have been incised and filled with liquid gold. The animal is shown with his head slightly tilted upwards, and with a smiling mouth.

Date: Circa 25-220 AD
Period: Eastern Han Dynasty
Condition: Extremely fine, with original gilding visible.


Terracotta moulded zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures are known in Chinese as mingqi. Such statuettes would have been placed in Chinese graves, to assist, protect and entertain the deceased in the afterlife. Statuettes of dogs, such as this fine example, would have been placed in the deceased’s tomb as guardians and companions. In Chinese mythology and culture, dogs, especially hounds, were believed to be a symbol of loyalty, and statues of hounds were often used to ‘guard’ the entrances to temples or important places.

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

Weight 1260.05 g
Dimensions L 23.5 x H 17.4 cm


Pottery and Porcelain


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