Bird-shaped Whistle

Accession Number

Bird-shaped Whistle


Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
8th century

Medium & Support
earthenware with glaze

2 5/16 in x 2 1/4 in x 1 9/16 in (5.87 cm x 5.72 cm x 3.97 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Subject matter
An earthenware dark glazed Changsha mingqi  (明器), literally "bright objects", bird shaped whistle of the Tang dynasty (618-906).

During the ninth and tenth centuries, Changsha kilns produced a vast number of toys and whistles for both the overseas and domestic markets.  Made using a variety of hand-building, wheel throwing, and molding techniques, they often took on a variety of forms including animals, people and daily objects. 

The the tongguan kiln, also known as the Changsha kiln in Hunan of the Tang dynasty was known for the production of over 200 different forms for daily use made for export to Central Asia and the Near East.  They were mostly utilitarian wares glazed in white, caramel and brown colored glazes with iron-oxide underglaze brushwork, as well as applique molded decorations.

Physical Description
A small hollow sculpture of a bird resting on tripod feet, with a globular body, a beaked head, a curled tail, with peircings to the body.  There is a dark brown glaze applied to the top half of the figure.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
funerary sculpture

Additional Object Classification(s)
Musical Instrument

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
birds (motifs)
ceramic (material)
figures (representations)
grave goods
toys (recreational artifacts)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted

On display

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