Model of a pigpen

Accession Number

Model of a pigpen


Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
25-220 CE

Medium & Support
earthenware with glaze

8 1/2 in x 11 13/16 in x 9 13/16 in (21.59 cm x 30 cm x 24.92 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by the Friends of the Museum of Art

Subject matter
By the Western Han dynasty, basic household bowls, plates, basins, jars, etc. were produced in great quantity, not only for use in daily life, but also specifically for tombs as mingqi (明器) (literally "bright objects"), or grave goods, as a way to provide for the deceased.  These mingqi included everything one would need during the afterlife.  Naturally, these objects reflected daily life during the Han.  Mingqi could include houses, towers, gates, granaries, livestock pens, chicken coops, wells, cooking stoves, storage vessels, dishes, incense burners, lamps and figures such as horses, dogs, anthropomorphic animals, and people such as officials, guardians, servants and entertainers, and more.  The number of ceramic mingqi items in a tomb could reach numbers of a few to several hundred objects.

During the Western Han, it was common for northern potters to create pigsties as mingqi.  By the Eastern Han, a variety of domesticated livestock in their pens could be found in tombs.  This particular model displays a variety of production techniques including wheel throwing and altering, molded parts, slab construction and hand sculpting. 

Physical Description
A red, circular-shaped earthenware pigpen, containing one pig, below a cylindrical tower shed with a window and a peaked roof displaying ridges.  Stairs connect the shed to the pen.  It is covered in a green lead glaze with iridescence and calcification. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
funerary sculpture

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
animal housing (farm structures)
architectural models
ceramics (object genre)
grave goods
lead glaze

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ AMH, 2nd floor ➜ 205 (Albertine Monroe-Brown Study-Storage Gallery) ➜ Cabinet G ➜ Shelf 2