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HOME : Chinese Art : Tang Dynasty : Pair of Tang Standing Rams
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Pair of Tang Standing Rams - H.047c
Origin: China
Circa: 618 AD to 906 AD

Collection: Chinese
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Outside of figures, animals also became popular subjects in Chinese burial art. In this depiction of two long horned rams, the craftsman's fondness for the subject is revealed through the stylistic choices made in sculpting the animal. Standing on all fours, its hooves surmounted by a base, the full-bodied animals are modeled to detail, with spiral horns curving around the large jaws and plump haunches slightly hanging over its joints. The animal appears smiling; its painted red mouth emerging from under its snout and its flushed ears and twinkling eyes enhancing its contented temperament. In China, the ram is one of the Twelve Terrestrial Branches of the Chinese calendar and is the emblem of retired life. A recumbent ram or sheep symbolizes the Confucian virtue of filial piety. Burial art of the T'ang period is characterized by a penchant toward figural objects rather than architectural models that prevailed during the Han. Princes and officials often commissioned large, brilliantly glazed sets of ceramic figures which ushered in the mass production of burial objects. However, the desire to imbue figurines with a life-like quality kept artisans busy creating Buddhist guardians, court entourages, animals, civil and military officials and other figures. - (H.047c)


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