Early Chinese Art

This is my exhibition statement with the theme of Early Chinese art.  The gallery consists of thirty-four art pieces that were created during ancient Chinese periods or dynasties.  Early Chinese art laid the foundation for many Chinese beliefs that are still in effect today.   Ancient Chinese art involves many stone sculptures and pottery and art is deeply rooted in China’s heritage.   One type of sculpture it the bi.  Included in my art gallery is a Ritual Disc (Bi) that has dragons on the outer rim.  The jade bi is a ritualistic disc that is placed beneath a dead body in a tomb.  The original function of the bi is unknown, but it is said that the bi was supposed to help the dead travel to the afterlife.   Originally Bi’s were fashioned without decorations and were merely flat jade discs but as the Chinese traditions evolved so did the making of the Bi’s.  Another example of the evolution of the bi is that during the Han dynasty some bi’s were made of glass.  The afterlife or immortality was extremely important to the ancient Chinese which shows the importance of the bi as this was seen to be an important object to help them reach their heaven.

Another focus piece in my art gallery is the “Guardian Lion”.  It was sculpted during the Tang dynasty.  This is an intriguing piece of artwork because of how fierce the lion’s face appears.  The lion’s muscles are much defined and show the dominant power of the animal.  The early Chinese no doubt want to use their artwork to help inspire their people and remind them of that they need to maintain the strength and fierceness in order to hold on to the peace that was experienced during the Tang dynasty.

The Ritual Disc (Bi) that I have chosen to do a focus statement on relates to the theme in that it was made during the Han dynasty. The Han dynasty was an excellent time for art and prosperity in early China. The disc is made of jade, which is an extremely rigid and solid stone. This particular bi is sliced extremely thin, and even though it is so thin the artist was able to still give the dragons on it a sense of depth. The artist would not have been able to carve this piece but rather used special sanding tools to abrade the surface to form the art. This bi consists of two dragons on the outer rim and on dragon in the middle. The two dragons on the outer rim vary in their stances. One dragon is crouched while the other is more upright. The dragon in the center connects the outer disc to a smaller inner disc. This bi would have been placed in a tomb, either on top of or beneath the body. Bi’s where reserved for people of high status and were believed to help the dead find their way in the afterlife.
The “Guardian Dragon” is an art piece that relates to the theme of the gallery because it was made during the Tang dynasty. The Tang dynasty was considered one of the greatest dynasties in China’s history. The “Guardian Lion” was sculpted out of marble with traces of color mixed in. The attention to detail that the artist took to sculpt the lion is outstanding. Looking closely at the lion’s face all of the teeth are shown. The tongue is rolling in the mouth as though the lion is giving a tremendous roar. The fine hairs on the chin and main are shown in curls. The lion’s brow is furloughed and the snout has a snarl to it; all of this shows the ferociousness of the beast. Moving away from the head the viewer sees the tight sinewy muscles as though the lion is a breath away from striking. Finally the lion’s claws are seen somewhat spread and dug into the ground to give the animal the traction required to lounge. Often these types of sculpting would be set at the entrance to shrines; the purpose of the “Guardian Lion” is that it was used to ward off evil spirits.
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