Model food dishes for the afterlife

Shaanxi province, China
Ming dynasty, about AD 14501600

These model food dishes present the ingredients for a feast for the soul in the afterlife and give us an idea of the types of food enjoyed by the living in China, in about AD 14501600.

The foods are arranged as five main meats (a goat, a pig, a rabbit, a fish and a goose) and five accompanying dishes (pomegranates, peaches, water chestnuts, persimmons and mantou [steamed bread]).

They are arranged in groups of four as the Chinese word 'si' meaning four has the same pronunciation as, but different tone from, the word 'si' meaning death.

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Dimensions

Height: 2.80 cm
Diameter: 11.00 cm

Museum number

1927.12-14.1-10

Donated by Lady Edith Chester Beatty

Location

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