The Western Han Dynasty is known for producing painted terracotta vessels that imitated archaic bronze prototypes. The shape of this example is a reminiscent of the distinctive bronze hu vessel of the Shang-Zhou Dynasties. The derived Kui patterns, seen on the body of this example, are presented in abstract yet precise strokes, giving only a skeleton impression of its antecedent complexes that originated in the Xia-Shang-Zhou dynasties (circa 2205 BC- 878 BC). Kui patterns used to adorn ancient Chinese objects, refer to a mysterious creature that takes the shape of a serpentine body and a phoenix’s head. On traditional Chinese bronze wares, the elongated bodies of Kui creatures are usually represented by geometric and abstract expressions. Thus Kui patterns have been designated as the derived kui patterns in order to differentiate the naturalistic and elaborate styles. Terracotta hu, such as this fine example, would have been buried with the deceased as a votive offering.
Han Terracotta Polychrome Painted Hu with Lid
A finely sculpted Han terracotta hu featuring a globular body which gradually tapers into a long, slender neck and is supported by a flat base. The vessel has a wide opening with an everted rim. The polychrome painted lid, mainly featuring red pigment, displays a slight convex surface and is placed on the top. The neck and the body are fully ornamented with floral motifs and Kui pattern, which referrers to a highly aesthetic yet abstract liner ornament inspired by the traditional Chinese mythological Kui creature.
Period: Han Dynasty
Condition: Good condition, with polychrome pigments surviving on the surfaces. The surface is covered with earthy encrustations.