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Chinese New Year: Exhibition of Auspicious Pigs at Three Gorges Museum


A visitor is looking at the pig-shaped exhibits, Three Gorges Museum

By Keqiao Cheng, EDITOR

Chongqing – On January 29, The Cultural Exhibition for the Spring Festival: Auspicious Pigs kicked off in Chongqing Three Gorges Museum. This exhibition will last for more than a month to accompany the museum enthusiasts to celebrate the Spring Festival.

Lifelike exhibits

According to the staff of Three Gorges Museum, the exhibition starts from the domestication of hogs. Meanwhile, with over 200 exhibits, it will display China’s time-honored pig breeding history and derivative culture.

Exhibits of different pigs

At the exhibition venue, a pig-shaped ceramic that is 29 cm long and 13 cm wide is of fine resemblance. Moreover, even the bristles on its body are clearly defined. The staff said that people unearthed this pig-shaped ceramic at the Wushan Starch Factory in Chongqing.

Also, in the tombs of the Han Dynasty, there are often ceramics with images of livestock such as chickens, dogs and pigs. Besides, they are in different shapes and absolutely lifelike, vividly restoring the farm scene at the time.


So how mature is the pig industry in the Han Dynasty? Experts said that it was definitely a pillar industry at that time.

A green glazed ceramic pigpen

First, the Han Dynasty has a revolutionary breakthrough in pig raising. In the past, pigs grew in the wild like cattle and sheep rather than in pens. Until the Han Dynasty, as the pig industry was rapidly developing, the state strongly encouraged in raising pigs. Later, a more scientific and systematic way of raising pigs gradually appeared. Thus, people began to notice the importance of keeping pigs in captivity and breeding pigs based on local environment.

More interestingly, the Han Dynasty people even invented a technique called Xiangchushu (in Chinese: 相畜术), i.e. Livestock Assessment Technique, to raise pigs better.

Popular image in the ancient times

Moreover, pig-shaped objects also became popular burial objects. In the Han Dynasty, the pig-shaped ceramics were mandatory for the burial custom. It originated from the wish that the deceased enjoy the pork as well in the nether world. The rich would put piglet-shaped jade carvings into the hands of the dead, commonly known as “grasping piglets”.

Fossils of boar teeth

In ancient times, the charmingly naive pig was one of the most popular images on our ancestors’ amusement articles. In this exhibition, such images frequently appear at the venue. But they mostly present the images of boars rather than hogs.

Besides pig-shaped articles made of wood and jade, there is also a boar-shaped tri-color glazed ceramic of the Tang Dynasty.

This “boar”, a typical Tang tri-color glazed ceramic, is 12 cm long and 5 cm wide. Most of the glaze of this white-based lying boar with yellow and green glaze has fallen off. With a long mouth and a raised ridge, it presents the image of a resting boar. According to the literature, the scale of pig breeding in the Tang Dynasty was very large. The number of pigs in an official family could reach 3,000.

The jade boar with a blanket with Ruyi pattern covered on its back

Besides, there is a “boar” from the Qing Dynasty at the exhibition. This three-dimensional boar-shaped jade carving is only 9.5 cm long, 5.2 cm wide and 6.3 cm high. It has long bristles carved on its forehead, with a rope tied to its body. There was also a blanket with Ruyi pattern (a traditional Chinese pattern symbolizes good fortune) covered on its back. Although the appearance is mellow, adorable and charmingly naive, it shows the image of a boar.

Source: CQCB



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