Model of a four-storied pavilion

Accession Number

Model of a four-storied pavilion


Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
earthenware with glaze

41 1/4 in x 17 3/4 in x 11 3/4 in (104.8 cm x 45.1 cm x 29.8 cm);41 1/4 in x 17 3/4 in x 11 3/4 in (104.8 cm x 45.1 cm x 29.8 cm);14 9/16 in x 18 1/8 in x 14 9/16 in (37 cm x 46 cm x 37 cm);13 3/4 in x 17 3/4 in x 13 3/4 in (35 cm x 45 cm x 35 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Domino's Pizza, Inc.

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.  A tomb could contain anywhere from a few, to several hundred ceramic mingqi items.
Mingqi, of course included residential buildings such as this multi-storied tower. Most information we have of Han dynasty houses comes from architectural ceramic models and depictions on tomb bricks; only the foundations of a few Han Dynasty buildings have been excavated, revealing modest sized to small structures. Upper middle class houses were mainly one or two rooms, surrounded by a courtyard, and could be multiple stories. Houses of the well-to-do were heavily fortified with high walls, corner watchtowers, and covered, elevated passageways, and would have been confined to rural areas.  
These ceramic models of multi-storied houses give important information about wooden post-and lintel construction during the Han dynasty. The majority of these structures are courtyard style walled residencies with a gated entrance; sometimes animals are represented in these courtyards. The houses generally have flat façades, with overhanging roof eaves supported by bracket sets, roof ridges with corner finials, balconies, lattice windows, open doors and occupants in rooms looking out, or on balconies. Commonly, a bird or owl is situated on the uppermost roof ridge as a conduit between the world of the living and the spirit world of the deceased.  

Physical Description
A red earthenware model of a four-story pavilion surrounded by a courtyard wall with a hipped roof covered gateway. Each story is similar in construction but graduated in size with the smallest story on top. These small single-bay rooms feature a double door entrance below a lattice window. The overhanging roof eaves supported by a single bracket set, display roof ridges imitating tile work with decorative cornices, and provide the base for the next storey’s roof balcony. The uppermost hipped roof has a bird on its apex. The entire structure is covered in a green lead glaze, with iridescence and calcification. 
​This model is a part of 1993/1.59.1 through 1993/1.59.5.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
funerary sculpture

Collection Area

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architectural models
ceramic (material)
grave goods
lead glaze

& Author Notes

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