Funerary Urn (Hunping)

Medium sized olive colored urn, upper half carved into figures and structures
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Medium sized olive colored urn, upper half carved into figures and structures

Date:

Western Jin dynasty (A.D. 265–316), late 3rd century

Artist:

China

About this artwork

This complex and imaginatively modeled vessel is known as an “urn of the soul,” a symbolic dwelling for the spirit of the deceased. A profusion of figures was molded and applied to its sealed lid, which takes the form of a multistory pavilion. In the balcony-like mouth-rim, a tortoise supports a large vertical tablet, a common form of memorial stone. The real and mythical creatures on the vessel—birds, monkeys, bears, dragons, kneeling figures, and immortals riding dragons—all follow the iconography of early Chinese funerary art. Intermingled with these images, however, are depictions of the Buddha, who is identified by his meditating posture, topknot, and halo. The marginal role of Buddhist art in this decorative scheme reflects the adoption of the alien Indian religion, as the Chinese then understood it, into a hospitable mélange of different spiritual beliefs. Additionally, this jar reflects a formative stage in the development of China’s renowned celadon glaze, which became more uniform in color and texture over subsequent centuries.

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Asian Art

Title

Funerary Urn (Hunping)

Origin

China

Date

265 AD–316 AD

Medium

Stoneware with olive-green glaze and molded and applied decoration

Dimensions

H. 48.7 cm (19 3/16 in.); diam. 27.5 cm (10 13/16 in.)

Credit Line

Through prior bequests of Mary Hooker Dole and Grace Brown Palmer; through prior gifts of Josephine P. Albright in memory of Alice Higinbotham Patterson, and Mrs. Kent S. Clow; Russell Tyson, Robert C. Ross endowments

Reference Number

1987.242

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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