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Artwork Details

Early 7th century
earthenware with glaze
3 1/8 in x 2 11/16 in x 1 9/16 in (7.94 cm x 6.83 cm x 3.97 cm)
Gift of Willard A. and Marybelle Bouchard Hanna

On Display

Not currently on display


Subject Matter:

An earthenware straw-colored glazed mingqi  (明器)("bright object") figure of a duck of the Sui dynasty (581-617).

Since the Qin dynasty (221 - 206 BCE), ceramic figures have been used to replace human sacrifice in burial practices as mingqi as a way to provide for the deceased.  Mingqi could include houses, towers, gates, granaries, livestock pens, chicken coops, wells, cooking stoves, storage vessels, dishes, incense burners, and lamps.  Figures could include horses, dogs, anthropomorphic animals and people, such as officials, guardians, servants, and entertainers. By the Han dynasty, they also included representations of common people engaged in the activities that consumed their daily lives, such a cooking. The tombs in southern provinces of Sichuan and Shaanxi have revealed a vast array of figures in playful and humorous poses.  As grave goods, these mingqi included everything one would need to ensure a comfortable transition into the afterlife. The number of ceramic mingqi items in a tomb could reach numbers of a few to several hundred objects.

Physical Description:

A small earthenware figure of a duck standing on two feet with head curved down, covered in a straw-colored glaze.

Usage Rights:

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