Ming Dynasty Terracotta Beijing Siheyuan House
AGE: – Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD)
CONSTRUCTION: – Terracotta
MEASUREMENTS: – See image
WEIGHT: – 44.35
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This is a rare museum-quality Ming Dynasty Terracotta Beijing Siheyuan House that was made specifically for funerary purposes during the Ming Dynasty. Mingqi funerary objects such as these could possibly represent a replica of the house of the person in whose burial chamber it was found.
Placing items that the deceased favored, or used during their lifetime inside the burial chamber was a popular practice in China dating back more than three thousand years. Almost anything one used in daily life, such as cooking and drinking vessels, a much-loved pet or farm animal was copied and made specifically for funerary purposes, to ensure that all the needs of the deceased would be met during the journey into the afterlife and beyond.
The Beijing courtyard house developed over hundreds of years, reaching its peak of popularity during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and through to the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
During the Ming Dynasty Beijing became the cultural and political centre. Town planners specified specific regulations requiring houses to be built on a grid system. The walled courtyard house became the accepted style for this system. Almost everyone in Beijing, from the peasant to emperors lived in a courtyard-style house, varying in size and ornamentation depending on their wealth; these houses have served generations of the same family for centuries.
The courtyard configuration varied in other parts of China, depending on their climatic conditions and was built on the essential feng-shui principles regarding site selection to avoid cold winds that could blow the Qi (good energy) away, another was to be near water that brings and accumulates Qi.
Feng shui literally means “wind and water”. These elements in feng shui are thought to harmonize people with their environment to bring good Qi which then would bring peace, health, and good luck.
The design, layout, and direction of the traditional Beijing Siheyuan house were important, involving many different elements such as the direction of the winds and rain, whether there was a mountain or river nearby that could possibly have a positive or negative effect on the natural flow of Qi (good energy) into the home.
The feng-shui concept of environment considers many factors, spiritual as well as physical and temporal as well as spatial, ranging from the sky to earth and from human life to nature.
The typical Beijing courtyard house was a group of yards enclosed by one-story buildings; some dwellings included large courtyards suitable for gardens. This style of home was traditionally built along a north-south and east-west axis. The building facing north and facing south is the main house. The buildings adjoining the main section and running down the sides face west and east.
As seen in this terracotta Ming dynasty Siheyuan house, there was a partition inside the entrance. According to Feng Shui principles, this was to thwart the dragon or evil entities who could enter and create mayhem. Often a mirror was placed on this wall, they believed that once the dragon saw the sight of himself, he would withdraw quickly.
The major goal of feng-shui is to find a way to live in harmony with heaven, earth, and other people. Traditional Chinese believed that the way to live is to unite nature and people. There is an old Chinese saying that “to be lucky, one must find good timing, a suitable place, and supporting people.”