History of the Forbidden City of China, £8.99
Height: 42.500 cm
Length: 33.000 cm
Thickness: 13.800 cm
Purchased with public subscription from the George Eumorfopoulos Collection
On loan to
Ming dynasty about AD1490–1620
According to traditional Chinese belief, roofs are platforms of communication between the words of the living and spirit realms. Consequently they were decorated to ward off evil and to act as a magnet for blessings and good fortune.
This glazed earthenware ridge tile was made about AD1490–1620 during a golden age of tile production.
It shows Guan Yu, a great historical general and hero of the Three Kingdoms Period (AD 221–280) and immortalised in the Ming novel San Guo Yan Yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms).
He is described as having 'gleaming skin, glistening lips, eyes like the crimson phoenix, brows like nestling silk worms'. His horse is called Red Hare and can cover 1,000 'li' (540 km/330 miles) in a day.
This popular hero was deified and known as Guan ‘di' (emperor). He is both God of War and of Wealth.