(Art of Empire) Porous Fired Bodies (Qin and Han)


For all its close attention on the afterlife, the art in Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C.-A.D. 220) reflects pure state power, without an iota of religion and religious apologetic. Five of the famous figures from the tomb of Qin Shihuangdi, the First Emperor of the Qin dynasty, along with other terra-cotta warriors, horses,  groomsmen, courtesan musicians and dancers, and livestock are brought together into a rich assemblage. Even the standing figures aren’t really still. These earthenware, porous and fired bodies are primed to move. Especially the dancers, all the figures express the dynamic motion of the violence of empire. In the exhibition space of the museum galleries, a darkness envelops the lively life of the tomb art.

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About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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