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Funerary Wine Warmer with Hill-shaped Cover




Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 C.E.)


Funerary Wine Warmer with Hill-shaped Cover


Earthenware, green lead glaze


22.8 cm (h.), 20 cm (diam.)


Gift of the Guérin-van Oenen family, inv. 2018.303.1-2


Archeology and World Cultures

From around the sixth century B.C.E., funerary models began to replace the actual items that had once been considered appropriate grave goods. The Han dynasty (206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.) mingqi, or “spirit articles,” included miniature stoves and animal pens, as well as vessels such as ding tripods and hu vases, inspired by earlier bronze models. This clay replica of a bronze wine warmer provided sustenance to the soul of the deceased on its journey to the afterlife. Its inclusion in a tomb underlines the importance of wine drinking in Chinese society. Moulded in relief and resting on three legs in the form of seated bears, the body of this jar is decorated with a continuous frieze of hunting motifs. Small human figures on foot and horseback set in within mountains aim bows and arrows at tigers, boars, dragons and deer. The cover is moulded in the shape of a mountain range – hence the name “hill jar” for this type of container – where animals prowl through an undulating landscape. The vessel conveys a Daoist cosmological message: the scenery on the cover refers to Mount Bo, the sacred abode of the immortals, to which the soul of the deceased was thought to ascend on its way to heaven.

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