Ceramic tomb model

From China
Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century AD

An earthenware model of a building complex

From ancient times, the Chinese believed that life after death was similar to life in this world. Therefore, they provided in their tombs the things they would require to maintain the status and style to which they were accustomed. In the Han dynasty (221 BC-AD 220), tombs contained ceramic models of houses, farm animals, servants, entertainers, dishes of food and other items from daily life.

Ceramic tomb models like this from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) resemble the style of wares made in the Han. They still represent the world of the living. This set depicts a house complex. It shows the gates through which one enters, then an ornamental screen. The screen blocks evil spirits from entering, because they can only travel in straight lines. The side buildings provide living accommodation and kitchens. The largest building is the main reception hall, where a chair and chest show the kind of furniture used at that time. At the rear is a sealed storehouse.

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More information


J. Harrison-Hall, Ming ceramics (London, The British Museum Press, 2001)

S.J. Vainker, Chinese pottery and porcelain, (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

J. Rawson (ed.), The British Museum book of Chi (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Height: 42.800 cm (main hall)
Length: 36.900 cm (main hall)

Museum number

Asia OA 1937.7-16.6-12



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