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From the unearthed Han dynasty pottery buildings, it can be seen that Han people already knew how to construct multi-level high-rise buildings, with structures that were strong and fortress-like to prevent theft and intrusion. Beside the main gate on the ground floor, there was also a small door, presumably for the entry and exit of dogs. Keeping guard dogs in households reflected the less-than-ideal public security situation at that time.


During the Han dynasty, tombs in southern China often contained warehouse structures made of pottery, designed similar to houses. In contrast, warehouses in the northern regions were tall and cylindrical in shape. The warehouses in southern China featured roofs but lacked windows. They were equipped with doors that had four holes in the corners for pegging the wooden doors, and the base of the warehouse had four holes for inserting wooden pillars to elevate the structure, which helps prevent theft, rodent infestations, and water flooding. However, this architectural design disappeared after the Han dynasty.


Believing that the deceased would dwell in another realm, ancient people interred a variety of burial items within their tombs for their enjoyment in the afterlife. These burial items, besides auspicious talismans, were predominantly crafted in the likeness of everyday objects. They reflect the cultural ethos of the time. For instance, the Han-dynasty miniature houses were made of pottery, with two hooked objects known as “chiwen” attached to both ends of the roof. As the personification of birds perching atop lofty structure, the chiwen symbolizes the noble yang energy, which serves as a protective emblem of the dwelling. Chiwen, in such simple depiction, was prevalent even in the Tang dynasty.


Apart from the animal mask, another typical bronze decoration was the triangular "cicada pattern". Ancient people believed that cicadas possessed regenerative powers, thus they were cast on common vessels to enhance their auspicious meanings. In ancient times, cockroaches were also considered as Stove God, as kitchens without cockroaches indicated poverty and insufficient food. In fact, some of the "cicada pattern" resembled the shape of a cockroach. When bronze vessels went out of fashion, the cicada decoration disappeared as well.


Bronze vessels with three legs were traditionally used in activities involving fire. While many believed that the bronze vessel "jue" was exclusively for drinking wine, the three-legged jue were also utilised for warming wine. Jue featured two slim column-shaped protuberances that aided in handling the warmed wine.


The warehouses in the Han dynasty tombs in North China have a completely different design from the houses in the South. They are tall and in cylindrical shape, with a roof-shaped lid attached. The bottom is adorned with bear feet. Bears are fierce animals with impressive strength, and they can stand upright like humans. Therefore, the Han people would wear bear skins during rituals to mimic bear-like beings to ward off evil spirits. As a result, Han dynasty artefacts were often decorated with bear patterns, symbolising auspicious meanings.


Makara is a deity of river in Indian mythology, characterised by a fish body and a beast-like face. The deity was introduced to China during the Tang Dynasty and evolved into a dragon-headed fish, symbolising a transformation from a common fish to a revered dragon. As a deity of water, Makara gradually replaced the chiwen in the Song dynasty, standing on the roof to guard the building against fires. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, Makara was renamed "Ao Yu".


Ancient people once regarded ding as the symbolisation of imperial power. Such notion was gradually weaken as dings started to evolve into more diminutive objects over time. Beginning in the Song dynasty, incense became daily necessities. People thus used short-legged dings with intricately carved lids as incense burners. Meanwhile, tripod cauldrons (dings) were brought to great use under the rising popularity of incense burning in Buddhist and Daoist beliefs. Moreover, the slender stick incense created in the Yuan dynasty was suitable to be placed and burnt inside the bronze tripods. Undoubtedly, the various forms of ding represent one of Chinese’s most distinctive traditional craftsmanship.


The designs on bronze artefacts may seem intricate, but they primarily featured dragons. By placing two dragons facing each other, they created a "tao tie pattern", also known as "animal mask". In the late Zhou dynasty, these dragon patterns were simplified, with the dragon body separated, showing only the head or a curved serpent-like body, referred to as the "pan qu pattern". Animal mask was then gone. The pan qu pattern later transitioned into a fish scale design called the "lin pattern". By the time of the Warring States period, the lin pattern became more abstract, resembling overlapping small insects and was known as "pan chi " baby dragons. This also reflected the decline of bronze craftsmanship.


During the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, the bronze vessel known as "zun" were commonly used for serving wine. It typically had a round shape, flared mouth and foot, a narrow waist, and a lid.

By the time of the Song Dynasty, indoor flower arrangements had become popular. People started using zun as flower containers, called "flower zun", and began making them in porcelain.

Interestingly, the Song people also created a type of porcelain vessel with a long neck and a rounded body, known as "flower vase". However, they realised that the shape of the flower vase was also suitable for storing wine. As a result, the flower vase could also be used as a wine bottle.

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