Shandong Province, China / Tomb panel with relief of figures in a pavilion / early 2nd centuryShandong Province, China
Tomb panel with relief of figures in a pavilion
early 2nd century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Shandong Province, China
Title: Tomb panel with relief of figures in a pavilion
View: Principal view
Creation Start Date: 100
Creation End Date: 133
Creation Date: early 2nd century
Creation Place: Shandong Province, China
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Materials and Techniques: Limestone
Dimensions: H. 31 1/4 in. (79.4 cm), W. 50 in. (127 cm)

The fabulous birds and winged immortal on the central roof of this building in relief suggest a paradisiacal rather than an earthly realm. Four towers?the larger ones decorated with a tiger (left) and a dragon (right), the pair at the back with standing attendants?flank the open, two-storied pavilion. Columns with tripartite capitals support the platform of the second level and the roof. The figure at right center, distinguished by her large bird-headed cap and flowing gown, represents Xiwangmu, known as Queen Mother of the West. A complicated and multivalent figure, Xiwangmu was thought to rule the land of the immortals (located somewhere west of China) and played a major role in Han beliefs.

Significant changes occurred in Chinese funerary practices during the first century A.D., as tombs replaced ancestral temples as the focus of rites. Family cemeteries filled with lavish tombs constructed prior to the owner's death became the settings for banquets, musical performances, and the display of art. Stone began to be used, possibly reflecting the influence of growing ties with India, and replaced brick as the principal architectural medium. State sponsorship of Confucianism led to the development of a new funerary iconography that extolled virtues such as proper conduct and filial piety. The hierarchical placement of Xiwangmu and her attendants in the pavilion is typical of later Han representations of heavenly courts, which, under the influence of Confucianism, began to parallel the organization of earthly ones.

AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York
ID Number: 20.99
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1920
Copyright: Copyright ? 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved.
Style or Period: Eastern Han dynasty (25?220)
AMICA ID: MMA_.20.99
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright (c) 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All Rights Reserved

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