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Lot 0353
**Originally Listed At $1000**

East Asia, China, Ming Dynasty, ca. 1368 to 1644 CE. A fantastic set of hollow, mold-made terracotta roosters, each with highly-stylized anatomical features such as drooping wattles, crested combs atop slender heads, pointed beads, broad chest hackles, and plumed tail feathers. The tops of their ankles are visible, though their feet are integral with their respective ovoid bases. Each rooster is coated in a verdant-green sancai glaze with high-point areas exhibiting hues of wheat, citrine, russet, brown, and burgundy; a few notable areas of silver iridescence are visible along their backs and bases. Size of each: 6.5" H (16.5 cm).

Tomb figures like this one are part of a class of artifacts called “mingqi” - sometimes known as "spirit utensils," "vessels for ghosts," or “items for the next world.” They became popular during the Han Dynasty, though the tradition was hardly practiced during the tumultuous centuries that followed. Revived during the Tang Dynasty (ca. 618 to 906 CE), it was the Ming Dynasty that was determined to again mass-produce such important and symbolic vessels.

Alongside animalistic figures like these were oftentimes musicians, athletes, other animals, and miniature architectural structures. Even though they were mass-produced, mingqi of the Ming Dynasty often show an elevated level of naturalistic detail and vibrant colors. These “spirit vessels” were designed to assist the po, the part of the soul of the deceased that remained underground with the body while the hun, the other half of the soul, ascended. Caring for the po seems to have taken on a new level of significance in the Han period, with more elaborate rituals and tomb construction arising.

Provenance: private Vero Beach, Florida, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s; ex-private old English collection

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One rooster has repair to part of head; the other rooster has head and neck reattached with light resurfacing and overpainting, as well as repairs to portions of base and tail. Both items have expected age-commensurate surface wear, with fading, discoloration, and small losses to glazing. Small losses to bases, tails, and heads, and fading to facial and body features. Nice craquelure to glaze. Earthen and mineral deposits throughout.

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Pair of Chinese Ming Dynasty Terracotta Glazed Roosters

Estimate $2,000 - $3,000
$9000 bids
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