“Yung”, made of clay, bamboo, stone, wood, and cloth, was a human-shapes figurine, used as funeral were to be buried with the dead in ancient China. Animal shapes, and those of a religious nature, were not considered as “Yung”. According to the dictionary of classic vocabulary “So Wen Chieh Tsu”: ”Yung” is defined as a clay figurine for burial purposes.
We may divide the history of “Yung” into several phases namely the “Spring and Autumn” period as birth, late “Warring State” period, and Qin as the growth period, before reaching the Golden period in Han. After the Six dynasties, “Yung” revived and prospered, attaining high level of quantity and quality in the Sui and Tang period. However, from the Song period and Yuan period, the production of “Yung” gradually decreased, and its quality became mediocre. Around this period, stone, wood and paper figurines were still popular.
In ancient China, a living humans and horses, together with horse wagons, were buried with the dead master. This inhuman custom was eventually banished and from the “Spring and Autumn” period, pottery figurines were used to replace the human sacrifice. This shift of practice brought about a change in the funeral ceremonies and social institutions in China. The funeral objects made in different periods which were excavated from the old tombs provide us with valuable historical material for archaeological, sociological and aesthetic research.