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Chinese Sculptures

Chinese sculptures were brought to Europe by Marco Polo. By the 18th century Europeans not only possessed original ceramics, enamels, and furniture from the East but were adapting Asian designs and skills in their own products. Chinese Chippendale furniture and chinaware are examples. The Chinese were master craftsmen and produced fine sculpture, especially in bronze. Although bronze casting existed a thousand years earlier, it was in the Zhou Dynasty that China developed the art to its peak.

This is evident in the great ceremonial vessels used by the nobility for ancestor worship. From tombs of the Han Dynasty (202 BC- 220 AD) have come a rich variety of clay figures of people, animals, and household utensils designed to make life comfortable in the next world. Other objects are wrought in bronze, inlaid with silver and gold, and elaborately ornamented with abstract and fanciful designs. Carvings in jade and bas-reliefs on tomb walls also reached a high degree of excellence.

Buddhism sculpture, Chinese sculptures Hetian Jade Sculpture, Chinese sculptures

One of the most magnificent archaeological finds of the century was the tomb of Shi Huangdi at Xi'an China. In March 1974 an underground chamber was found containing an army of more than Tang Tri-colored Glazed Pottery Horse6,000 life-size terra-cottasoldiers of the late 3rd century BC. Other nearby chambers contained more than 1,400 ceramic figures of cavalrymen and chariots, all arranged in battle formation.

The prosperous Tang Dynasty (618-907) developed Buddhist art to its highest level. Stone was a favorite medium for religious sculpture, and iron replaced bronze in the casting of figures. The glazed terra-cotta figures of this period are especially fine.

With the decline of Buddhism in the Song period (960-1279), Chinese sculpture lost its vigor. Nevertheless, interesting works continued to be produced, such as the Bodhisattvas. In Japan Buddhism and its art followed the Chinese pattern.