On loan from the Putnam Museum and IMAX Theatre
Davenport, Iowa
Pottery, unglazed
Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – A.D. 220)

The pottery produced then, figurines of animals and models of farm buildings, reflects the importance of the agricultural basis of the economy at the time.

During the Han Dynasty there was a continuing interest in elaborate funerary preparations based on the beliefs that descendants could ease their parents’ way in the afterlife, and that vengeful ghosts must be appeased. In order to placate the spirit of the deceased, funerary objects, or mign-ch’l, were interred in the tomb along with many of the prized possessions of the dead person. The tomb figurines of the Han were mold-made, and served as cognitive interpretations rather than realistic descriptions of the objects they represented. Pottery figurines such as this one were originally painted in unfired colored pigments which, unfortunately, were quite impermanent.