1.1.2.8 Han Dynasty China

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He lidded containers
Pottery statue of Lo-Han
Brick with snake and tortoise
Servant statue
Belt plaque
Lady of Dai mummy

Liu Sheng’s Jade burial suit
Gilt bronze lamp, kneeling servant
Storyteller figurine
Han Farm model
Flying Horse

The Han dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu.

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Image source: artblart.com
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He lidded earthenware containers decorated with pigments. They are dated to the Han dynasty and on show at the Ganquan County Museum, Yan’an.

Image source: penn.museum
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Statue of the 7th c depicting Lo-Han. The Eighteen Arhats (or Luohan) are depicted in Mahayana Buddhism as the original followers of Gautama Buddha who have followed the Noble Eightfold Path and attained the four stages of enlightenment.
Image source: artblart.com
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This hollow earthenware brick is decorted with a tortoise and snake. It is dated to the Western Han, 207 BCE – 9CE and on show at Maoling Museum, Xingping

Image source: ancient.eu
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A Western Han statue of a servant. On show at the Cernuschi Museum, Paris, France.

Image source: abc.net.au
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Western Han belt plaque decoarted with agate, gold, jade and turquoise. Gold at this time was not prized, it was merely a decorative element, Belt plaques were personal status symbols.

Image source: artblart.com
Someone did not want her recalled this way, producing a waxwork of how she may have looked:

Image source: Wikimedia commons
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Lady or Marquise of Dai, died in 168 BCE and was mummified. Her name was Xin Zhui, the wife of Li Cang. Her mumy is the best preserved ever found, her skin is still soft to the touch, her limbs can still bend, she still has type-A blood in her, she still has hair. Doctors were able to perfoma an autopsy on her more than 2,000 years after her death. She died at around fifty years old from a heart attack, her last meal was of melons.Found in 1971 at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan.

Her tomb had all the trappings of her priviliged life – embroidered silk garments, a silk sachet filled with spices and fragrant flowers and reeds, boxes of cosmetics, lacquer ware, musical instruments and statuettes.

Image source: joyofmuseums.com
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Jade burial suits were considered to be myths until two were found in 1968. Liu Sheng the King/Prince Jing of Zhongshan, from the Western Han, died in 113 BCE. He is reputed to have fathered 120 sons.. His father, Jing, and elder brother, Wu, were Han emperors. His mausoleum was found in Mancheng, Hebei, west of Baijing. He was buried with his wife, Dou Wan, and hundred of artefacts – gold, silver, jade, bronze, iron, lacquered. There were six chariots, 571 pottery pieces and silk. Jade Burial Suit had gold ties. This was the first Western Han tomb found undisturbed. He and his wife’s suits consisted of 2,498 plates of solid jade connected with two and a half pounds of gold wires.

Image source: ancient.eu
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This 48cm high gilt bronze oil lamp depicts a kneeeling servant girl, her arm performing the function of a chimmey. It was found in Liu Sheng and Dou Wan’s tomb.

Image source: en.chnmuseum.cn
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This 56cm tall red-clay figurine is a story-teller beating a drum as part of his performance to entertain Han dignitaries and other audiences. They usually beat the drum as they sang. These performers were often dwarfish. It was found in an Eastern Han tomb and dated to 25-220 CE. It is on show at the National Museum of China.

Image source: ancient.eu
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This unglazed pottery model of a Eastern Han Farm is on show at Museum of Asian Art, Corfu.

Image source: Wikimedia commons
This bronze horse has become an iconic emblem of China. Racing through the skies, it treads on a swallow (at base of statue) that looks up in amazement. Unlike Pegasus, the wingless Han steed is meant to be understood metaphorically, an ideal horse that can gallop so fast that it seems to outrun the wind. Dated to 25-220 CE it is on show at the Gansu Provincial Museum.

Forward to 1.1.2.9 Early Chinese Calligraphy – Back to 1.1.2.7 Qin Dynasty China
Back to 1.1.1 Art in Antiquity Index – Forward to 1.1.3 Fertile Crescent

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