Rare Chinese Eastern Han Dynasty Pottery Money Tree Base (AD 25 - 220)
This very rare and large moulded pottery object was made during the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25 - 220). It is the base to a "money tree" and has been excavated from Sichuan province. The coin-shedding, or money tree is known from late Han Dynasty funerary art from the south-west of China. It was believed that if shaken, coins would fall from it. The money tree itself would comprise a bronze trunk, or pole, to which were attached finely-cast bronze branches, the leaves of which would depict mythical animals and beings as well as coins. The bronze trunk would be inserted into its base. Although several money tree bases are known to have survived, the bronze trees are usually only found in fragments, although there are a handful of complete examples to be found in Chinese museums.
This example is made from a relatively highly-fired red pottery. There are many different features to the moulding; the upper part shows a mountainous hilltop and clouds. The lower part includes a dragon, phoenixes and other animals. In places are faint traces of red pigment.
Length 40 cm (15.75 inches), width 25.5 cm (10 inches), height 21.5 cm (8.5 inches). This item is available to view at our gallery.
See also our even rarer stone money tree base in the form of a toad (our stock number M0781).
For more information about money trees, please refer to the British Museum book "Mysteries of Ancient China".
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