Peeking at Life through Death

Jade amulets, bronze vessels, dancing figures, accessories — we’ve come to expect that from ancient tombs in China.  But sex aides and toilets?  That was a first for me, though I will admit not the most fascinating part of the Asian Art Museum’s “Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China’s Han Dynasty”  (you can read my review here).  One of the things I most loved was the varied depiction of animals real and mythical, some showing influences from Central Asia, others as abstracted as a hieroglyphs, yet others so expressive you can hear the deer bellow and the tiger growl.  Or purr.



And, granted, this is as much the work of time as it is of an artist’s hand, but doesn’t this horse and rider express what happens in a tomb, a message that the installation itself reinforces time and again.

Cavalry figure carved in wood in 1st C BC
Bronze candelabra fron 2nd C BC — as found in the ground (left) and as reconstructed

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