Archaic and Imperial China
Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220)


Object :
Nº 220
Medium :
Dimensions :
Height: 77 cm (30.3") - Diam: 40.7 cm (16")
Bibliography :
Published in the book « Collecting Masterpieces » Part one, by Beryl Cavallini, pages 48 and 49

Description :

This model of architecture has been built in terra-cotta and covered with a glaze containing plumber which creates this colour is obtained thanks to oxide of copper. It is composed of four different elements moulded and assembled freely. As a consequence of its funerary stay, it has been superficially covered with a very thin deposit of calcar with gives this beautiful iridescent silver look to that piece. The basis is composed of a circular basin with flat rim. The superstructure is piled up on it vertically.  Well preserved, some restorations but no lacks.

The arrival Of Confucius would change the Chinese way of life. They then decided to organize a funerary ritual during which all the objects of the everyday life would be placed around the deceased. They started building these architectural models that resemble the first models of funerary houses dating back to the Neolithic. It was under the Han that they really gained prestige. Han people were the first ones to be conscious that architecture would allow the Emperors to reinforce the recent unity of the country. Since central government was struggling to consolidate itself, aristocracy decided to build up large estates that will reinforce their power. Fiefdoms are formed by nobles seeking agricultural autonomy in the face of food shortages. The European-style fortified castle never existed in China. Houses remained as large farms, but the need to construct walls, moats, and towers held by armed men was felt. The full-scale versions of these towers were placed at strategic points of properties, by bridges, on hills, but were also mounted on carts and boats when they were taken to war. In fact, most of these towers were created from light, mobile wooden components, so that they could be dismantled and transported with ease. The square or round bases represent a basin or rather a moat, which were filled with water. A series of terraces at different level form parapets with balustrades, where archers would stay to defend their lords. These two structures of architecture are of an impressive size that is rarely seen, even in museums.