Tang Dynasty Limestone Chamber Door - DK.118 (LSO) - For Sale

Tang Dynasty Limestone Chamber Door - DK.118 (LSO)
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This monumental stone door originally sealed the entrance to the tomb chamber of a member of the T’ang Dynasty’s elite classes. Hand-carved from solid limestone, it is of sectorial construction, with a wide central decorated panel flanked by a pair of narrower columnar panels, each decorated with a single figure. The low-relief carving is exquisite. The central panel depicts five figures, at least three of which are female (as indicated by their hair and bound feet) and two (or perhaps one) male figures. All are standing in postures indicating respect and perhaps mourning, with their hands folded inside their sleeves; one is facing the viewer, one facing the left, and three facing to the right. Their hair is highly ornate, and marks them out as members of courtly society. The single figures on the flanking columns are rendered in slightly higher relief than the central figures, and are similar in that they face centrally and have their heads slightly (the male) or notably (the female) bowed. The figure to the left – a man – is dressed in a similar courtly style, and bears a ewer and a glass/goblet. The other figure is female, and is simply but elegantly dressed and is unencumbered by any paraphernalia.This piece was made during what many consider to be China’s Golden Age, the T’ang Dynasty. It was at this point that China’s outstanding technological and aesthetic achievements opened to external influences, resulting in the introduction of numerous new forms of self-expression, coupled with internal innovation and considerable social freedom. The T’ang dynasty also saw the birth of the printed novel, significant musical and theatrical heritage and many of China’s best-known painters and artists.The T’ang Dynasty was created on the 18th of June, 618 AD, when the Li family seized power from the last crumbling remnants of the preceding Sui Dynasty. This political and regal regime was long-lived, and lasted for almost 300 years. The imperial aspirations of the preceding periods and early T’ang leaders led to unprecedented wealth, resulting in considerable socioeconomic stability, the development of trade networks and vast urbanisation for China’s exploding population (estimated at around 50 million people in the 8th century AD). The T’ang rulers took cues from earlier periods, maintaining many of their administrative structures and systems intact. Even when dynastic and governmental institutions withdrew from management of the empire towards the end of the period – their authority undermined by localised rebellions and regional governors known as jiedushi –the systems were so well-established that they continued to operate regardless.The artworks created during this era are among China’s greatest cultural achievements. It was the greatest age for Chinese poetry and painting, and sculpture also developed (although there was a notable decline in Buddhist sculptures following repression of the faith by pro-Taoism administrations later in the regime). It is disarming to note that the eventual decline of imperial power, followed by the official end of the dynasty on the 4th of June 907, hardly affected the great artistic turnover.During the Tang Dynasty, considerable investment was put into the creation of a suitable afterlife, especially for the social elites. A striking variety of tomb furnishings – known as mingqi – have been excavated. Entire retinues of ceramic figures – representing warriors, animals, entertainers, musicians, guardians and every other necessary category of assistant – were buried with the dead in order to provide for the afterlife. Warriors (lokapala) were put in place to defend the dead, while horses/camels were provided for transport, and officials to run his estate in the hereafter. Decorated superstructures are rare, however, especially of this delicacy of execution.It is probable that these refined figures represent mourners, wives and distinguished associates of the deceased; it is also possible that the couple on the flanking pillars represent the deceased person (statistically likely to have been a man) and his wife or concubine. This is a stunning piece of ancient art and a credit to any collection of Chinese masterpieces. - (DK.118 (LSO))

Ancient Asian
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Seller Details :
Barakat Gallery
405 North Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills
Contact Details :
Email : barakat@barakatgallery.com
Phone : 310.859.8408

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