Tomb figurines of mythical figures
The majority of Mingchi are realistic since they are
modelled on recognizable forms from everyday life. A
number of Mingchi are clearly more fantastic than
realistic and exhibit combinations of human and animal
features. In some instances, the meaning or role of the
figures is not yet clearly known. Some might have been
created as an auspicious omen while others seem to have
been designated as protectors to fend evil spirits from
the tomb and its occupants.
image which appears frequently on tomb murals and
sculpture is that of the intertwined mythological
deities of ceation - Fuxi, a male and Nuwa, a female.
second type of auspicious image is the human-headed fish.
In traditional Chinese symbolism, fish are associated
with wealth or abundance because of the similar
pronunciation of the words for fish and wealth (both are
Other beasts, some
clearly fantastic and others quite naturalistic, were
apparently created as ferocious guardians that fended
off evil from the tomb. Beginning from the Han period ,
a type of winged feline creature is found in tombs.
A roaring mouth and staring eyes are typical features.
Large standing versions, carved in stone, are found
above the ground at tomb sites of the Six Dynasties
period. During the late Han period, the lion was
traditionally designated as a guardian of the tomb.
composite beasts have been called by a variety of terms
in English and Chinese, including chimera, guaishou (strange
animal), or tianlu (heavenly deer). Currently, the
correct Chinese term for such beasts is zhenmushou,
literally "tomb guardian creature".