Pair of warriors

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€ 12000

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Western Han Dynasty, 206 BC - 25 AD
Earthenware with pigment
61 cm

Hong Kong Museum of History, War and Peace- Treasures of the Qin and Han Dynasties, Hong Kong 2002, p. 82, 83, cat. no. 40.
S. Kwan, Chinese Sculptures - The Muwen Tang Collection vol. 10, Hong Kon 2011, pp. 66 - 69, cat. no. 7, 8.
J. Lin, The Search for Immortality - Tomb Treasures of Han China, The Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge 2021, p. 90, cat. no 3.

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These two large well-defined pottery figures of warriors are dressed in armour and are standing in a defensive pose. The warriors have their right arm raised forward and their left arm next to their body. In both hands of the pottery figures are holes, indicating that originally they would have held wooden weapons, like spears or shields. The figures are wearing bulky trousers with a flaring tunic and boots. There are many traces of the original polychromy, especially on the red, white and black of the tunic and their faces.

These guards are part of the burial rituals in the Western Han Dynasty.  High-ranking persons were buried with various everyday objects; it was believed that life after death was a continuation of the present life, and therefore the deceased was provided with all the objects necessary to continue living after death. Thus, terracotta animals, as well as food, clothing, servants and valuables, were incorporated. These warriors protected the deceased and assured a safe journey into the afterlife. Ancestor worshipping was very important, for the deceased and for the entire family. This pair of warriors gives us not only more information about the burial rituals in the Western Han, but also shows the military developments of the time.  

Groups of comparable terracotta warriors were found in the burial grounds of Yanjiawan, Xianyang city in Shaanxi province and were excavated from Yangguishan. 


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