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Red glazed pottery lamp with embracing bears design
Source: Henan Museum Edit: acf Time: 2021.05.14 17:22:23


Period:Western Han(206 BC--25 CE)
Measurement:L. 25.5 cm
Provenance: unearthed at the Sijiangou Han tomb, Jiyuan,Xinxiang, Henan,1969

This pottery lamp, one of the multitude of the potteries unearthed in Sijiangou Han tomb, was discovered at the meeting place of the front chamber and the passageway which leads to the back chamber. It is disputable when the lamp emerged in ancient China. But the archaeological finds show that pottery lamp had been used in Yangshao Culture of the Neolithic Age, and Han dynasty was the thriving period in the development of the lamp in ancient China, when greater variety developed, and magnificent progresses were made in the forms and craftsmanship.
As for this object, the circular tray on the top has a conic spike in the center for securing candle, under the tray is a modeled tube in the form of two hugging and gnawing bears, under which connected with a triangular conical pedestal, and its surfaces are three naked figures and a wing-outspread immortal which are in different postures, interspersed with hills, trees, and grasses symbolizing the earth, as well as water deer, and cicada, etc. This artifact not only demonstrates the progress of the sculpture and decorative craftsmanship, but also reflects the bear worship in Han dynasty when the bear was deemed as the incarnation of the Yellow Emperor in social ideology, that was capable of carrying loads, guarded the nether world, and communicated with the heaven and earth, thus the hugging bear-shaped lamp in the tomb is presumably for guiding the spirit of the deceased and warding off the evils.