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Dog Cage (Goulong)
Dog Cage (Goulong), Late 18th - 19th century
Brass with cloisonné enamel and gilt decoration; jade rings
45 1/2 x 32 x 24 3/4 inches (115.6 x 81.3 x 62.9 cm)
Gift of the Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1964
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Looking Questions

  • What is this?
  • How was this object used?
  • What are the wheels for?
  • What colors are most prominent?
  • Would this object have been expensive to own?
    How can you tell?

Art Activity: A House for a Favored Pet

This cage housed a royal dog of some sort, but it also expressed the lavish lifestyle of the owner. Have students create their own elaborate house for a favorite stuffed animal. Cut windows or bars in decorative patterns on the sides of a shoe box, and create a door on one end. Use sticks, chopsticks, or Popsicle sticks to build an openwork roof structure. Paint the box and roof and then add accents or texture with metallic markers and found objects, such as buttons, bottle caps, sequins, or seashells. Display these cages in your classroom.

Research Project: People and Pets

The Chinese Empress Dowager of the Qing dynasty kept many dogs as pets. She took daily walks with her two favorites, a Pekingese pug and a terrier, and taught them tricks. People all over the world raise pets. We know from paintings in ancient Egyptian tombs that people kept cats as pets. Tomb sculptures from Tang dynasty China feature domesticated dogs. Research the history of animals and people living together in domestic settings. What other ancient cultures have kept animals as pets?

Group Activity: Animals as Symbols

In Chinese art, animals and plants often have symbolic meanings. The dragons decorating the surface of this dog cage are considered powerful mythical creatures that bring good fortune. Divide students into small groups to research other animals or mythological creatures and their symbolic meanings, both in Chinese culture and elsewhere. For example, in Chinese folklore, the tortoise represents longevity. What does an eagle symbolize to Americans? Why are sports teams named after animals? Have each group identify at least two to four animals or creatures and report on their symbolic meanings. Gather these reports into a class book to share with others.

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