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Selbitschka, Armin (2015): Miniature tomb figurines and models in pre-imperial and early imperial China: origins, development and significance. In: World Archaeology, Vol. 47, No. 1, SI: pp. 20-44
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Abstract

Early Chinese tombs contain great quantities of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines as well as architectural models. Both kinds of miniatures are generally regarded as part of a single trajectory that ultimately substituted for human sacrifices. The purpose of it all was to create `underground homes' so that the deceased could enjoy the amenities of their former lives in the hereafter. This understanding is largely based on received literature and scattered archaeological finds. Through a detailed analysis of the earliest instances of funerary sculptures, this article seeks to demonstrate that figurines and models at first represented two different rationales. Later on, these converged into a new view of the afterlife, one that symbolized not only `underground homes', but entire estates of an ever increasing number of landowners. Early Chinese tomb miniatures were thus instrumental in the formation of personalized, subterranean microcosms, or private `little empires'.