An image of Architectural tower: tomb model

Unknown Artist

Architectural tower: tomb model

Other titles:
Model of a Watchtower, Watchtower
Not on display
Further information

Pottery models of buildings, horses and other animals, military personnel, servants and courtiers were made to furnish the tombs of rulers and royalty in early China. Thus endowed, the tomb became a replica of the deceased's life on earth. Pottery facsimiles or 'mingqi' have become the most illustrative and evocative images of life in ancient China, as well as a poignant demonstration of the Chinese belief in the afterlife. The production of these pottery models stimulated one of China's most distinctive and unique artistic traditions, which flourished during the Han and Tang dynasties. This unusually large model of a four-storey watchtower is manned by guards holding crossbows on the lower level, and by alert and watchful sentinels above. Every architectural detail is observed: in the circular roof tile ends, the ornate quatrefoil ornaments on the corners, the door and gate fittings and the overall construction methods. Since most Han dynasty buildings were constructed from wood and have not therefore survived, such models are the most accurate records of architecture in early dynastic China.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg.247.

Place of origin
Henan Province, China
China: Han dynasty 206 BCE–220 CE
1st century-2nd century
earthenware with a low fired green lead glaze
144.8 x 38.5 x 38.5 cm :
a - top, 39 x 35 x 33 cm
b - upper middle, 34 x 35 x 33 cm
c - middle, 35.4 x 38.5 x 38.5 cm
d - lower middle, 52 x 34.5 x 33.3 cm
e - base, 26.4 x 27.7 x 16.5 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Edward and Goldie Sternberg Chinese Art Purchase Fund 1992
Accession number