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Model of an Oxcart


Artwork Details

Model of an Oxcart
earthenware with mineral pigment
9 1/16 in x 18 1/2 in x 5 in (23 cm x 47 cm x 12.7 cm)
Gift of Domino's Pizza, Inc.

On Display

Not currently on display


Subject Matter:

This is an ox and cart mingqi (明器, bright objects) sculpture of the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534). Imagery of ox drawn carts in tombs did not appear until the second or third century, perhaps included as a way to help transport the soul of the deceased to the after-world.  

Since the Qin dynasty (221 - 206 BCE), ceramic figures have been used to replace human sacrifice in burial practices as mingqi, or grave goods, 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:

This is an earthenware model of an ox and covered cart. The ox stands on all four legs and is hump-backed with horns. He is painted in red pigment and stands in front of a two spoke-wheeled cart, which is closed and covered and painted in red, black, and white pigments. 

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