A finely modelled Western Han Dynasty polychrome terracotta tripod, featuring a hemispheric container supported by three zoomorphic legs, and further embellished by two flanging handles, one located on each side. The tripod’s lid appears geometrically decorated in red and brown pigment, while the tripod’s body displays simple bands of brown and red pigments running around the rim.
The Western Han Dynasty is known for producing painted terracotta vessels that imitated archaic bronze prototypes. The shape of this fine example, with its three legs, is reminiscent of the popular Zhou Dynasty archaic bronze ding vessels, a type of vessel used for cooking or storing, usually featuring three or four supporting legs and two handles to the rim. The decorative motifs on terracotta Western Han tripods would have been painted after firing, mimicking the repousse and moulded decoration on archaic bronze tripods. Terracotta tripods, such as this fine example, would have been buried with the deceased as a votive offering.
Date: Circa 209 BC – 9 AD
Period: Western Han Dynasty