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Ancient Chinese Stone Sculptures

view:author:Magic Stoneupdate:2012/06/28

Ancient Chinese Stone Sculptures: Stone Figures of Animal, Human and Buddha

Hinako Ishimatsu & Yang Xiaojun


In China, during the Han dynasty, large-scale, three-dimensional stone sculpture appeared. Stone animals and stone human figures were erected in front of tombs and on their approach routes. Chinese art, which had long loathed realistic representation of human body, began to turn towards the human body.

However, these stone human figures were cloaked in thick garments, and their expression was nothing more than generalized surface treatments. In the first half of the 5th century, Chinese stone sculpture met an unprecedented foreign influence in its encounter with Buddhist art, and there was a rapid development of human figural sculpture via Buddhist sculptures. In the Tang dynasty, a Chinese style of Buddhist sculpture, fitted with both bodily expression and decorative qualities, matured.

On the other hand, the erection of stone sculptures and steles spread in the general classes and in regional areas, given the undercurrent of China's native preference for, and reverence of jade. Chinese stone sculpture developed amidst a repetition of being greatly swayed by the "foreign" and held back by the 'traditional.' In the history of Chinese stone sculpture, it was always foreign cultures that brought the opportunity for the birth of new changes.