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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.


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



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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Arts of Asia


Funerary Urn (Hunping)


China (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

265 CE–316 CE


Stoneware with olive-green glaze and molded and applied decoration


48.7 × 27.5 cm (19 3/16 × 10 13/16 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


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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