Far East, China, Tang Dynasty, ca. 618 to 907 CE. A greyware pottery duck, mold-made in two pieces and attached to a cylindrical pedestal, rendered in a floating/swimming position, its neck curved and head looking straight ahead, its folded wings delineated with stylized feathers, presenting an overall bold silhouette. Models such as this were known as ming-ch'i (or mingqui "spirit animals") and represented a central component of Chinese burial practices. The subject matter of ming-ch'i are usually related to daily life, and the inclusion of animal miniatures within such contexts attests to the importance of raising livestock in ancient China. The ancient Chinese viewed the afterlife as an extension of their lives on earth, so mingqi reveal details about their daily lives and belief systems over the course of a thousand-year period. Mingqi emerged during the formative Han dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE) and continued to be created through the turbulent Six Dynasties period (221 to 589 CE) and the later reunification of China in the Sui (589 to 618 CE) and Tang (618 to 906 CE) dynasties. As Xunzi, a follower of Confucius, aptly stated, "One adorns the dead as though they were still living, and sends them to the grave with forms symbolic of life." A lovely example with nice remains of pigment on the surface. Size: 5" L x 4.5" H (12.7 cm x 11.4 cm)
Provenance: Ex-Rosensteel collection
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