previous image | Main Exhibition | next image

Green-glazed rooster
Eastern Han dynasty (25–220 CE)
Clay with green glaze
H. 28.4 cm, L. 31 cm
Excavated from Donggu River, Gaotang
Collection of Shandong Provincial Museum
(cat. #23)


This green-glazed rooster is from the same tomb in Gaotang as the dog, chef, and stove (cat. nos. 22, 24, 25) in our exhibition. It has deep-set eyes and wattles incised with straight lines that angle downward toward the neck. Finger marks indicate the separate modeling and attachment of the wattles below the bird’s mouth. The ears were also made separately and attached; here the incised details are drawn more vertically. Its beak is incised more deeply than the wattles, and its comb has been repaired. The body is hand-modeled and articulated in great detail. The small covert feathers of the wing are incised as large cross-hatching lines while the long primary flight feathers incised as horizontal bands; one of the larger flight feathers has a raised ridge. Arched tail feathers were separately modeled and attached.

Although the presence of farm animals is quite common in Han tombs, birds of this large size with such fine detailing are extremely rare.[1] Representations of animals often accompany the deceased to the afterlife, often in tandem with models of farmyards, wells (see cat. no. 26), and harvesting equipment. The green glaze used on the chicken is lead-based and was used solely for mortuary ceramics.

all text & images © China Institute Gallery


1. A much smaller and less animated rooster was found in the Han tomb at Yujia village, Qian’an district, Hebei Province. See cat. no. 25, n. 1.

previous image | Main Exhibition | next image