IMPORTANT AND EXTREMELY RARE SET OF CHINESE ZODIAC FIGURES WITH ANIMAL HEADS, MING DYNASTY, 1368-1644 AD.
This interesting set is the first set with animal heads we've ever seen dating to the Ming Dynasty. Nomally zodiak figures from the Ming Dynasty have human heads and holds the animal in their hands.
The statues have animal heads and human bodies, and are dressed in long gowns with long sleeves, their hands folded in front of their chests.
The 12 Chinese zodiacs (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and boar) correspond to the 12 "earthly branches". They are often found in the form of pottery funerary objects in tombs of the Sui (AD 581-618), Tang (AD 618-907) and Song (AD 960-1279) dynasties.
Pottery zodiac figures were realistic in appearance in the early days, as seen in examples from the Northern Dynasty (AD 386-581). Later, they became more stylized, and gradually transformed into a combination of animal and human features.
Our set is very interesting in that the figures are extremely detailed and with almost grotesque features!
The zodiac figures were often placed in a north-south direction in coffin chambers to represent the progress of time. People hoped that such an arrangement would encourage the god to time to guard the tomb.
Size: 21-22 cm. in height.
Condition: Superb, all figures are intact with finely preserved glaze and pigment.
Ex. Danish Private Estate collection, bought in the 1990s.