East Asia, China, Han Dynasty, ca. 206 BCE to 220 CE. An alert dog with a strong, protective stance and a fierce disposition, made from baked terracotta. His sturdy legs support his barrel-shaped body, that has a circular vent on the underside. He has a tense energy, with a curved tail that lays against his haunches, and perky ears. Traces of red pigment detail the harness around his neck, chest, and shoulders. This guardian pup most likely belonged to an elite individual worthy of such devout protection! Size: 11" L x 4" W x 9" H (27.9 cm x 10.2 cm x 22.9 cm)
Han Dynasty sculptors recreated various breeds of dogs in their artwork, and this example is a chow dog, who are often shown with harnesses and collars because they were used to pull small sleighs. During the Han Dynasty, such ceramic dog statues were used as a tomb guardians to protect the master's grave. All Han Dynasty pottery dogs were formed by two-part molds. Once the main form was attained, details such as eyebrows and whiskers were added. We see more dogs appearing in the later Han period, frequently in tombs. This is most likely because during this period the landed gentry lived on large estates and needed dogs to keep guard. The dog also makes an appearance on jade carvings of hounds during the Han Dynasty; hence, dogs apparently were cherished as a status symbol.
Provenance: ex-Barakat Gallery, Beverly Hills, California, USA, acquired prior to 2000
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Repaired from multiple large pieces with visible hairline fissures radiating from stomach and head. Repairs are well done. Chips to high pointed areas, abrasion on left front shoulder. Traces of painted pigment and encrusted mineral deposits on much of the surface.