Life-size Chinese model of a duck, Han Dynasty, 2nd century BC
Rare Life-size Chinese model of a duck, modelled in gray clay in a standing position, the details such as eyes & feathers incised, with webbed feet spread wide to support the stocky body & long upright neck.
Han Dynasty, 204BC – 220AD
Condition: signs of burial, join at neck, chip repaired to beak, stands well & stable, surface & clay is in good stable condition: there is no sign this piece was ever painted, which is not unusual in the early Han Dynasty.
38.5cm high; aprox. 28x20cm body
A rare large-scale tomb model from the early Han Dynasty, this wonderfully life-like ‘duck’ would have been part of a flock in a notable person’s funeral procession, and buried in the tomb with them.
The famous ‘First Emperor’ of China, Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC), was responsible for unifying the Chinese peoples into their first ‘country’, the Qin Dynasty Chinese. He had a lavish funerary complex built at Xi’an including the incredible ‘Terracotta Warriors’ – a vast army (8,000+) of life-size pottery soldiers to protect him in the afterlife. Alongside these well-known soldiers are every other aspect of daily life – including separate pits containing animals such as ducks & geese. This tradition continued on with the subsequent Han Dynasty (204BC – 221AD) to which this duck dates, but the large scale figures become increasingly rarer, replaced by smaller-scale figures.
This is probably to do with the simple fact that Emperor Qin prepared for his burial his whole lifetime – allowing the thousands of individually sculptured figures to be prepared. The Han burial goods were probably made much more hastily, and small = speed.
Note: we have called this a ‘duck’, but it could of course be a ‘goose’.