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Oxen, ram and ewes

Oxen, ram and ewes

Western Han Era (206 B.C. – 9 A.D.)
Terra cotta
H : 12.7 cm L : 17.3 cm, H : 9.2 cm L : 15 cm, H : 10.5 cm L : 15 cm, H : 12.6 cm L : 18 cm, H : 11.5 cm L : 19 cm .
M.C. 9874, M.C. 9875, M.C. 9876, M.C. 9877, M.C. 9878

Ram: The hard terra cotta bears traces of white and black, which indicate some sort of previous decoration in wide abstract planes; the nostrils and mouth are red. The large curled horns are dull red. The piece is geometric and strong. Powerful and straight lines indicate that the work was hewn, much like how the long fur on ovine legs in the north is treated in right angles. Despite the narrow body, made for a profile view, and smooth and synthetic appearance the animal still remains lively. This piece is rather unique for its extreme stylisation.

Two sheep: Hard grey terra cotta with a few traces of white engobe and a few red highlights on the mouth. The style remains the same, hewn, a little soft and hence more realistic. The head, as if stopped in motion  with layered ears, is very expressive.

Two cattle: These two oxen are of a similar style, in hard grey clay. The one painted in black has more volume due to its wide backside. The hooves are stylised, with the slit above the ungulates. The lyre-shaped horns are aggressive. The two nostrils are prominent and shapeless. An upside down “v” shaped face gives a vicious air to the beast, perhaps a bull, although this cannot be ascertained by its attributes.

All of these objects were made from clay fired at a high temperature. Whether or not they retain traces of their abstract polychromy over a geometric style on hewn clay, they indisputably form a group from the Han before our time, even if their real origin still remains unknown.

Auteur de la notice : Marie-Thérèse Bobot
Collection : Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220)
Mode d'acquisition : Donation of Mr Jacques Barrère, 1992.
  • Bœufs, béliers et brebis

Bœufs, béliers et brebis
© Musée Cernuschi