The invention of paper has been attributed to the Han Dynasty, supposedly realised by a court official and presented to the emperor. Paper had major impact on the dissemination of Han literary and artistic culture. Zoomorphic paperweights made in clay, stone and bronze were produced in abundance throughout the Han Dynasty, as important study tools used by ancient Chinese scholars. This specific statuette might have been modelled in the shape of the zodiac figure of the tiger. The Chinese zodiac is a method of counting years based on the Chinese lunar calendar which assigns every year with a representative animal in a repeating 12-year cycle. Each animal is also associated with a natural element in the Earthly Branch. The tradition of sculpting terracotta figurines into zodiac representations might have originated during the Han Dynasty.
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