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HOME : Chinese Art : Han Dynasty : Han Dynasty Painted Pottery Walking 'Sichuan' Dog
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Han Dynasty Painted Pottery Walking 'Sichuan' Dog - DL.2091
Origin: Sichuan Province
Circa: 206 BC to 220 AD
Dimensions: 24.6" (62.5cm) high x 22" (55.9cm) wide
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Terracotta
Condition: Extra Fine


Location: UAE
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Description
The overextension of the labor force during the Qin Dynasty would result in a popular uprising against the empire. In 206 B.C., Liu Bang, a Qin official, led an army composed of peasants and some lower nobility to victory and established his own Dynasty in place, the Han. However, unlike the Qin, the Han would unify China and rule virtually uncontested for over four hundred years. It is during this time that much of what is now considered to be Chinese culture was first actualized. The bureaucracy started under the Qin was now firmly established. The vast lands of China were now under the strong grip of a central authority. Confucianism became the state ideology although the worship of Taoist deity remained widespread, both among the peasants and the aristocracy. Ancient histories and texts were analyzed and rewritten to be more objective while new legendary myths and cultural epics were transcribed.

The Han era can also be characterized as one of the greatest artistic outpourings in Chinese history, easily on par with the glories of their Western contemporaries, Greece and Rome. Wealth pouring into China from trade along the Silk Road initiated a period of unprecedented luxury. Stunning bronze vessels were created, decorated with elegant inlaid gold and silver motifs. Jade carvings reached a new level of technical brilliance. But perhaps the artistic revival of the Han Dynasty is nowhere better represented than in their sculptures and vessels that were interred with deceased nobles. Called mingqi, literally meaning “spirit articles,” these works depicted a vast array of subjects, from warriors and horses to ovens and livestock, which were buried alongside the dead for use in the next world, reflecting the Chinese belief that the afterlife was an extension of our earthy existence. Thus, quite logically, the things we require to sustain and nurture our bodies in this life would be just as necessary in our next life.

Although it is possible that this splendid terracotta dog was intended to represent a source of food for the deceased, it is more likely that it was a domesticated animal. His ears stand upwards, as if attentively guarding his master throughout eternity. The heavy folds of skin around the eyes and the curly tail, as well as the general size and stature, suggest that this dog may be an ancestor of the modern Chinese Shar Pei breed. - (DL.2091)

 

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