Qinghua Guo's The Mingqi Pottery Buildings of Han Dynasty China is a study of an intriguing and important aspect of Chinese architecture and burial practice that has never been fully understood. Mingqi is a complex term referring to objects of almost any variety placed in Chinese tombs. The subset of Han grave goods discussed in this book are pottery works shaped like buildings. More architectural mingqi are found in Han (206 BCE–220 CE) tombs than in earlier or later periods; thousands survive and hundreds are illustrated in the book. Guo tells the reader at the outset that she will not attempt to discuss the origins or evolution of mingqi. Rather, her purpose is to "present salient points of an architectonic nature . . . from the standpoint of architectural representation" (1).

Still, Guo must begin with a definition of this...

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