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Figure of a Recumbent Dog

The dog was one of the first domesticated animals in China. As early as the fifth or fourth millennium B.C., it functioned as a guard and hunting animal and was also regarded as a symbol of fidelity. Canine remains have been found at the feet of the deceased in several Neolithic burial mounds and Shang tombs (circa 1600–1045 B.C.). Earthenware representations of dogs exist from as early as the Neolithic period, but date generally from the Han dynasty (206 B.C.A.D. 220) to the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618–907) as mingqi, or funerary ware.


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