Pair of Chinese Tang Dynasty Pottery Bactrian Camels

 

Chinese MINGQI

 

Tomb Art for the Afterlife 

 

Funerary art was produced as early as the Neolithic period and continued throughout the Ming dynasty. The Tang dynasty (618-907) known as China’s “golden age”, was an era of unprecedented wealth and prosperity. This was a time of unrivaled power and influence, with traders and foreigners from all over Asia settling in the capitals of Chang’an and Louyang. The merchants and tradesmen rivaled the royal family in wealth and power. The Silk Road was used for camel caravans that facilitated a tremendous flow of goods and ideas from all across Asia. Cultures and religions mixed freely during the Tang dynasty, eventually leading to Buddhism becoming the state sponsored religion. The arts flourished during this time, with Buddhism and other foreign influences inspiring the artists across the empire. It was the greatest age for poetry with two of China’s most famous poets Li Bai and Da Fu, notable painters such as Han Gan, Zhang Xuan and Zhou Fang, and the introduction of woodblock printing.  However, the Tang is most famous for its ceramics, which were the second largest export, with items being shipped to Persia and Egypt. 

The West was introduced to these exquisite pottery figures, horses, animals, warriors and earth spirits. These figures tomb guardians to accompany and protect the deceased into the afterlife. tomb guardians to accompany and protect the deceased into the afterlife. tomb guardians to accompany and protect the deceased into the afterlife. accompany and protect the deceased into the afterlife.accompanied and protected the deceased into the afterlife, and were produced for the tombs of the elite. During the Tang dynasty tomb art is a reflection of the wealth and social status of the deceased. The Confucian ideal of filial piety required that the survivors of the deceased arrange lavish funerals, using many pieces of pottery that had been selected prior to their death. These ceramics were decorative or ceremonial. During this time the three-color glaze sancai was first introduced, along with superior clays and glazes, items were glazed or unglazed and then painted.