Celadon Art Gallery

AN EXTREEMELY RARE  MARBLE FIGURE OF A SEATED LION, TANG DYNASTY

AN EXTREEMELY RARE MARBLE FIGURE OF A SEATED LION, TANG DYNASTY


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Porcelain: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1319089
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The lion is seated on a square base, its forelegs braced beneath a heavy rounded chest. Powerful muscles are indicated by deep lines of the legs and back. The paws show large claws, except the rear left, over which the sculptor has draped the end of the creature's tail. The head has a wide jaw, three pointed undercut beard and a mane rendered as a series of corkscrew like spirals. A small, roughly carved cub nestles behind the right forepaw. the face with open mouth, bared fangs, and the eyes with furrowed expression and the ears appear to be horn-like. Sitting with a child clutching a lion and a demon by her side . In sculpture made of marble with carved decoration and traces of black pigment. Measure : 16cm high. Conditions: one chip on inside of the foot, no cracks or hairlines and free from restorations. . Refference Note : Lions are not native to China and therefore they do not appear in ancient Chinese art. However, powerful figures in stone, often with wings, were carved as guardians to look after tombs from the Han period, apparently referring distantly to the lion sculptures popular in Iran and other parts of the Near East. Such creatures combined leonine figures with horns and wings, making mythical beasts which, which in China were often described as bixie. More life-like lions entered the Chinese repertory with Buddhism during the early part of the first millennium AD. In the Indian sub-continent and Central Asia, pairs of lions were often placed as guardians on either side of the figures of the Buddha., and this practice was borrowed by the Chinese. These figures were also borrowed from this Buddhist context and used as tomb guardians. The lion is seated on a square base, its forelegs braced beneath a heavy rounded chest. Powerful muscles are indicated by deep lines of the legs and back. The paws show large claws, except the rear left, over which the sculptor has draped the end of the creature's tail. The head has a wide jaw, three pointed undercut beard and a mane rendered as a series of corkscrew like spirals. A small, roughly carved cub nestles behind the right forepaw. The ears which are damaged at the tips, appear to be horn-like, possibly a reference to the mythological bixie mentioned above. In contrast to the earlier stylized and geometric representations of animals in the Han dynasty (206 BC- AD 220), the artists of the Tang dynasty imbued their depictions of animals with naturalistic qualities. In few other cases is this shift more evident than in the sculptures of lions, which in the Tang dynasty become important guardian figures and symbols of imperial prestige and power. The Tang emperors greatly expanded the borders of their realm, and through trade and tributary alliances, their sphere of influence was greater than any other previous dynasty. Lions were said to have been among the gifts of tribute to the Tang emperors, and their form was closely studied in both painting and sculpture. The powerful, muscular body and the ferocious expression of the present figure are hallmarks of Tang sculptural vitality and naturalism.