Rare Chinese Eastern Han Dynasty Pottery Money Tree Base (AD 25 - 220)
This very rare and unusual 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. The upper part depicts a winged-horse and rider. Below the horse on one side are two laden human figures, and on the other side two four-legged animals, probably horses but possibly sheep. Although unglazed, there is a splash of degraded green glaze that most likely dripped from a glazed object that was being fired in the kiln at the same time.
Height 32 cm (12.5 inches). This item is in very good condition and 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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