In Imperial China, powerful images from the human and spirit world were created as funerary goods [mingqi]. These often symbolised the political power and wealth of the ruler in whose tomb they were sealed. This is a model of a Han-dynasty watchtower, similar to those which were erected along the Great Wall during the same period in Chinese history. The tiered form of the watchtower continued to be popular in Chinese Buddhist architecture, where the Indian stupa was transformed into the Chinese pagoda. The square structure and multi-layered roofs with upsweeping eaves became signature features of Chinese traditional buildings. The moat is round rather than square, and the proportions are elegant. A Han-dynasty innovation, the green lead glaze has developed a charming silvery iridescence from 2000 years of burial.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label