Tomb tile with dragon and warrior

unknown206 BC - 9 AD

Royal Ontario Museum

Royal Ontario Museum

As part of a tomb structure, this tile was used by an upper class family during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 9), China. In the 1930s the tile was recovered in the Luoyang, Henan province, and brought back to the ROM by Bishop White. The triangular shaped clay hollow-brick was slated on the cables of a doorway between a front chamber and a rare chamber, allowing the beautifully colored images to be viewed from both sides. Painted on the surface of the tile is an image of a warrior holding a shield, he is empowered by a flying dragon, a rare artistic theme present in early China. The dragon allows the warrior to ride on its back as he moves through three different universes: the underground world, human world, and paradise world. The image of the warrior and the dragon on such a tomb tile is unusual. The ancient symbol of the dragon gave the warrior courage and the desire to live a long life, perhaps that is what the owner of the tomb, maybe a military person, wished for the afterlife.

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  • Title: Tomb tile with dragon and warrior
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date: 206 BC - 9 AD
  • Location: Reportedly from Luoyang Jincun, Henan province, China
  • Physical Dimensions: h81.5 x d17.5 cm
  • Provenance: Bishop William C. White Collection
  • Type: Tile
  • Rights: Royal Ontario Museum
  • Medium: Clay Hollow-brick
  • Time period: Western Han Dynasty
  • Length: 106.5
  • Accession Number: 931.13.186