Unlike the ritual jades and bronzes displayed in the previous two sections, grave goods in the Han (206 BCE-220 CE) and Tang (618-907) dynasties were often made of softer, more cost-effective materials, including low-fired ceramics (pottery) and wood. The works in this section include both mingqi, or "spirit articles," which are objects made specifically for tombs, and luxury goods, such as elaborate  silk textiles and lacquerware, which were found in tombs but which the deceased may have also used in life. The life-sized terra-cotta soldier from the Qin dynasty (221-207 BCE) is also mingqi but is exceptional in its large scale. More common in the Han and Tang dynasties were the reduced-scale images that appear in this section.

The emergence of mingqi indicates a shift in the conception of the afterlife to an extension and idealization of the earthly life of the deceased-a reflection of earthly status and a perfection of earthly pleasures. Figures of attendants, guards, entertainers, and pets, along with models of buildings, household furnishings, carriages, carts, and draft animals, transformed the silent tomb into a lively setting for the afterlife, as similar as possible to the living world of the elite. Mingqi also served the centuries-old practice of demonstrating filial piety and, at the same time, family wealth and status, by lavishing resources on the burial of relatives.