Eastern Han dynasty (A.D. 25–220)
c. 1st century A.D.
Earthenware with lead-fluxed glaze
12 1/4 x 13 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (31.1 x 34.3 x 14 cm)
Currently Not On View
During the Eastern Han dynasty, sculptors produced images of various dog types—among them mastiffs and chows—that were then included with the human and other animal figures placed in tombs. Dogs were generally fashioned standing on all fours or in recumbent attitudes. Chow dogs are usually shown in harness, reflecting their use for pulling small sleighs. Some are shown with a bell hanging from the collar. This animated figure of a chow dog from the Eastern Han dynasty was made from red earthenware covered in a dark green glaze. The dog’s sturdy, compact body stands firmly planted, his head slightly raised in an alert expression with snarling mouth, cocked ears, and tightly curled tail—a fine illustration of the Han artist’s ability to embody the spirit of the animal in sculpted form. The technique of glazing pottery was brought to new levels of sophistication during the Western Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 9). The earthenware surface was covered with a lead-fluxed glaze, containing copper or iron as a colorant, and fired to earthenware temperatures (600–800 degrees Celsius) in an oxidizing kiln. Copper green and iron yellow/brown make up the normal palette of Han glazed pottery, which provided the foundation for the development of the three-color (sancai) glazes of the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618–907).
(Haworth & Chen, Ltd., Hong Kong); purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1995.