Sculpture of a standing owl

Accession No. R001610
Period Shang Dynasty
Material Stone
Findspot Royal Tomb No. 1001 Hsi-pei-kang, Yin-xu Site
Geographic Location Hou-Chia-Chuang village, Anyang, Honan province, China
Dimension H. 17.1 cm; W. 10.6 cm; D. 9.1 cm


The owl is a common animal figure that reoccurs in Shang artifacts; they can be found in bronze and jade forms. This artifact was discovered from the Hsi-pei-kang Tomb 1001. The owl has a flat round head, curving beak, bulging belly and a forked tail. Even though it gives the overall impression of an owl, it is embellished with different animal patterns on various parts of its body. For example, dragon motifs have been applied to the sides of its head and heals, while a pair of bird motifs have been applied to its chest. Finally, the wings have been decorated with a cicada pattern on the back and simplified dragon motifs on the sides. This sculpture is finely crafted and portraits the owl vividly. It is among the most delicate marble sculptures from Yinxu.