Antique Ming Attendant with Zodiac Animal, China (1155BCK) $395


H: 7.375”  W: 2.75”  D: 2.5” | FREE SHIPPING!

A group of 12 zodiac figures as mingqi sometimes accompanied the wealthy deceased in their tomb. This Ming dynasty earthenware figurine stands on a low circular base and wears an official’s hat and long flowing robes. It is difficult to identify the specific animal held here but it may be a rabbit, small dog or baby pig. The detailed figure is hollow and partially mould-made and unlike glazed mingqi, was covered with a white slip and painted using black and white pigments which are mostly extant.


In China a set of earthenware Zodiac attendant figures was made as a 12 piece grouping, with each figure holding a small calendar animal with each year represented by a different animal – rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig or boarin a repeating 12-year cycle. Although the animals were different, the attendants were all similar. These astrological signs predicted one’s happiness and future. Mingqi (ancestral burial figures) images of zodiac figures were placed in a tomb in a north-south arrangement to symbolize the passage of time. This detailed figure in officials attire is hollow and partially mould-made from red clay using a bi-valve mould, the halves were luted together and the animal was added before firing. Mingqi reflect the Chinese belief in life after death and the importance of ancestral funerary practices requiring families to honor and provide for the deceased soul’s comfort and happiness. Sets of zodiac figures were made in a large variety of styles, and their size, number, decoration and quality depended on the wealth and status of the family commissioning them and reflected a strong adherence to ancestor worship and filial piety. Considering its age and centuries-long burial, it is in good condition with much pigment and with some paint and slip losses revealing the red clay underneath.


Patricia Bjaaland Welch, Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery, Rutland, Tuttle Publishing, 2008.

Additional information

Weight 4 lbs
Dimensions 12 × 9 × 6 in

Antique, Ming Dynasty


15-16th Century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 7.375” W: 2.75” D:2.5”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 18.72cm W: 6.98cm D: 6.35cm




Good condition, see description

Item Number


Shipping Box Size