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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Chinese
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 699
Creation End Date: 733
Creation Date: Tang period, c. late 7th-early 8th century
Creation Place: North China
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Metalwork
Materials and Techniques: Silver with embossing, chasing, engraving, and gilding
Dimensions: H. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm); D. 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.117
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The interest in metalwork and the use of gold and silver in Tang-period China (618-906) illustrate the impact of foreign ideas and art forms on the culture. Although gold and silver in the form of hammered fragments had been used as inlay on bronzes as early as the Shang and Zhou dynasties (c. 1700-221 BCE), during the subsequent Han and Northern and Southern dynasties these metals were only occasionally used for jewelry and other types of ornament. It was not until the Tang dynasty that a large number of functional objects made of or decorated with gold and silver were made.
The close contacts between China, Central Asia--particularly Sogdiana (centered in present-day Uzbekistan), which had longstanding mercantile ties with China--and Sassanian-period Iran played a critical role in the evolution of metalwork during the Tang period. This elegant bowl, which dates to the late 7th or early 8th century, typifies the use of Sassanian and Sogdian motifs and techniques. The bowl was shaped by hammering, or "raising," a sheet of silver into this form, then additional hammering produced the design, including the embossing of the lobed lotus petals decorating the sides and the chasing of the ring matting, that is, the background of small circles on the exterior. Not found in Chinese art prior to the Tang period, both raising and ring matting were techniques commonly used in Sassanian and Sogdian metalwork, suggesting a likely source for their introduction to China.
The lotus petals on this bowl are decorated with floral arabesques inhabited by birds: the symmetrical treatment of these motifs and the static, face-to-face birds probably stem from West and Central Asian sources. The decoration on the rim, in which a wide variety of animals race through stylized flora, derives from Chinese prototypes. Scrolling floral vines and running animals also decorate the footring and the bottom of the bowl's interior. The freer, more calligraphic style, and more sinicized treatment of these vines contrasts with the stylization of motifs on the outside of the bowl and further attests to the sophisticated interplay of native and foreign elements in Tang metalwork.
The vines, flowers, birds, and animals on this bowl were covered with gilding (usually gold leaf or some gold-colored pigment), much of which has worn away over time. It is possible that the interior of this bowl was once covered with a liner that hid the tool marks made by the hammered designs.
Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, , p. 55.
Related Document Description: Kelley, Clarence W. Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907) Chinese Gold and Silver in American Collections. Dayton, Ohio: Dayton Art Institute, 1984, pp. 45-46.
Related Document Description: Kelley, Clarence W. 'Tang Dynasty Gold and Silver.' Orientations (March 1985), pp. 11-12.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd. New York: Asia Society, 1970, pp. 49, 71, 72.
Related Document Description: Singer, Paul. Early Chinese Gold and Silver. New York: China Institute in America, 1971, p. 39.
Related Document Description: Washburn, Gordon Bailey. 'The John D. Rockefeller III Oriental Collections.' ARTnews 69 (September 1970), p. 46.
Related Document Description: Young, Mahonri Sharp. 'Treasures of the Orient: A Rockefeller Collection.' Apollo (November 1970), p. 338.
Related Document Description: Young, Mahonri Sharp. 'Letter from the U.S.A.: The Mandate of Heaven.' Apollo (January 1985), pp. 59-60.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.117
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, Asia Society
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