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Architectural tower: tomb model

1st century-2nd century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Titles
    Model of a Watchtower
    Place where the work was made
    Henan Province China
    Han dynasty 206 BCE - 220 CE → China
    1st century-2nd century
    Media category
    Materials used
    earthenware with a low fired green lead glaze
    144.8 x 38.5 x 38.5 cm :

    a - top, 39 x 35 x 33 cm

    b - upper middle, 34 x 35 x 33 cm

    c - middle, 35.4 x 38.5 x 38.5 cm

    d - lower middle, 52 x 34.5 x 33.3 cm

    e - base, 26.4 x 27.7 x 16.5 cm

    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Edward and Goldie Sternberg Chinese Art Fund 1992
    South Building, lower level 1, Asian Lantern galleries
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    Pottery models of buildings, horses and other animals, military personnel, servants and courtiers were made to furnish the tombs of rulers and royalty in early China. Thus endowed, the tomb became a replica of the deceased's life on earth. Pottery facsimiles or 'mingqi' have become the most illustrative and evocative images of life in ancient China, as well as a poignant demonstration of the Chinese belief in the afterlife. The production of these pottery models stimulated one of China's most distinctive and unique artistic traditions, which flourished during the Han and Tang dynasties. This unusually large model of a four-storey watchtower is manned by guards holding crossbows on the lower level, and by alert and watchful sentinels above. Every architectural detail is observed: in the circular roof tile ends, the ornate quatrefoil ornaments on the corners, the door and gate fittings and the overall construction methods. Since most Han dynasty buildings were constructed from wood and have not therefore survived, such models are the most accurate records of architecture in early dynastic China.

    Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg.247.

  • Places

    Where the work was made

    Henan Province

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 4 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 16 publications

  • Provenance

    Lillian Schloss, pre 1990, United States of America, purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Dec 1992.