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Cultural Heritage / Guides

Exhibition of dog-themed artifacts marks the Year of the Dog

By Xinzhu Xiao

March 27

The National Museum of China now has a wide range of canine-inspired artifacts on display to celebrate the Year of the Dog.

The National Museum of China now has a wide range of canine-inspired artifacts on display to celebrate the Year of the Dog.

The Dawenkou (大汶口) culture is a label archaeologists have given to a range of Neolithic communities of people living primarily in east China’s Shandong Province, but also appearing in Anhui, Henan and Jiangsu Provinces.

A dog-shaped pitcher of Dawenkou culture, known as a Gui (鬹). [Photo: Xiao Xinzhu /]
Among Dawenkou relics, the most famous and significant artifact is known as Gui (鬹). Gui is a type of pottery pitcher that generally has three legs and is used for cooking. Gui has a variety of forms.

One such dog-shaped pitcher of the Dawenkou culture is on display at the National Museum of China to celebrate the Year of the Dog, which began on 16 February.

In traditional Chinese culture, the dog is a Zodiac sign that represents loyalty and brings happiness.

Dozens of other Spring Festival and dog related artifacts from the museum’s own collection are on display until March 30 2018.

“This is the first time that the National Museum of China has opened a Chinese zodiac-themed exhibition. It has attracted a large number of local and foreign tourists,” said a tour guide at the National Museum of China.

More than 100 pieces are displayed, made of various materials such as clay, jade, amber, bronze and porcelain. The exhibits also feature ink paintings about hunting in ancient China, accompanied by dogs.

A festive clay dog. [Photo: Xiao Xinzhu/]
An amber dog from the Qing Dynasty. [Photo: Xiao Xinzhu/]
A barking pottery dog. [Photo: Xiao Xinzhu/]
A Qing Dynasty jade dog. [Photo: Xiao Xinzhu/]
A pottery dog figure from the Tang Dynasty. [Photo: Xiao Xinzhu/]
Also on show is a painting of a dog by Giuseppe Castiglione, an Italian missionary who served in the court of Emperor Qianlong during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The painting by Italian missionary and court painter Giuseppe Castiglione. [Photo: Xiao Xinzhu/]
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