Figure of a Buddhist MonkTang
16 1/2 in. x 8 1/2 in. (41.91 cm x 21.59 cm)
Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 56.697
Geography: Asia, China
Classification: Fine and Visual Arts; Sculptures
Collection: Helen B. Chapin '15 Collection
Findspot: T'ang Longmen
This object has the following keywords:
- Asian - Refers to the cultures of the continent of Asia, which is in the eastern hemisphere, and is bounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, and is generally considered to be delimited on the west by the Ural Mountains. It also refers to the numerous islands off the coast of Asia.
- Buddhism - Refers to the philosophy and religion based on the enlightenment and teachings of the Buddha Gautama in the early sixth century BCE in the northeastern region of modern India. Playing dominant roles in the art and culture of Southeast Asia and East Asia, this religion is based on the transcendence of human suffering and pain through the acceptance of the limitations of individuality, the surrender of worldly desires and cravings that cause disappointment and sorrow, and the deliverance from the impermanence of living and individual ego based on wealth, social position, or family through the process of enlightenment (nirvana). The religion also centers around 'anatman', or no-self, the idea that the self is in a state of action or a series of changing manifestations rather than in a state of fixed, metaphysical substance. The structure of the religion is based on the Triratna ("Three Jewels" of Buddha), a tripartite schematic for living based on three elements: Buddha (the teacher), dharma (the teaching), and sangha (community).
- carvings - Refers to works executed by cutting a figure or design out of a solid material such as stone or wood. It typically refers to works that are relatively small in size, are part of a larger work, or are not considered art. For large and medium-sized three-dimensional works of art, use the broader term "sculpture" or another appropriate term.
- Chinese - The cultures, styles, and periods characteristic of China. To specifically refer to the cultures of ancient Chine, use "Ancient Chinese."
- monks - Members of a religious brotherhood who are devoted to a discipline prescribed by their order. Monks take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Performance of religious duties and contemplation are traditional priorities. Monks typically live apart from society in communal monasteries, but some live alone (hermits or anchorites). Monks are distinguished from "friars" in that for the monk retirement and solitude are undisturbed by public ministry, except in exceptional circumstances. Some of the more prominent orders of Christian monks include the Benedictines, Cluniacs, Cistercians, Trappists, Carthusians, the Premonstratensians, and Camaldolese.
- religion and mythology
- stone - General term for rock that has been cut, shaped, crushed, or otherwise formed for use in construction or other purposes. Includes the specific archaeological and anthropological sense of individual stones which may be decorated or ornamented and which may be used in ritual contexts. These are usually not carved or dressed, and so differ from sculptures made from stone.
- Tang - Refers to the culture, style, and period of a Chinese dynasty of the period 618 to 907 CE, a time considered one of the most brilliant in Chinese history. China flourished as a stable, consolidated empire and the resulting prosperity and patronage created a Golden Age of Chinese painting, metalwork, ceramics, music, and poetry. Chang'an, with its masterful urban planning, remained the main Tang capital and a world center. Taizong (reigned 626-649) and Xuanzong (reigned 712-756) were important Tang rulers and patrons. Buddhism remained influential although it suffered periods of persecution during the Tang dynasty. Paintings from the caves at Dunhuang and stone pagodas such as the Great Wild Goose Pagoda (ca. 652) and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda (ca. 707) in Chang'an have survived. Monumental stone sculpture of the northern provinces displays the new tendency toward fuller, more sensual figures. This tendency also found in secular Tang sculpture, both stone and ceramic. The merging of Indian and Chinese sculpture styles is seen at the cave at Mt. Tianlong, created under the patronage of Empress Wu Zetian (reigned 690-705). Painting, which flourished during the Tang, was dominated by the secular landscape tradition. Li Sixum and Li Zhaodao, father and son, and Wang Wei are three painters' names known to us; probable copies of their work exist. Wang Wei's work, influential for later artists, was intimate and melancholy while the work of Li Sixum and Li Zhaodao features the bright greens and blues of many Tang landscapes. Chinese portrait painting, begun in the Han dynasty, was refined in the Tang by such artists as Wu Daozi. Tang ceramics include sancai earthenware figurines and vessels, typically used as tomb objects, white porcellanous wares such as the well-known Xing ware of Henan province, and the jadelike Yue celadons of Zhejiang province. The use of metal oxides in underglaze decoration was developed in Hunan and Sichuanh provinces and porcelain, although not fully exploited until later, has its origins in the Tang period. Tang decorative arts were influenced by Middle Eastern and other foreign trends during the Tang dynasty, leading to new styles in ceramics and metalwork. For instance, colorful glazed earthenware objects such as ewers and rhytons were made to resemble Persian silverwork and Persian weft patterning were introduced to Chinese textiles. China, in turn, exported its pottery, silk, and printing and paper technology. The Tang dynasty was succeeded by the Later Liang dynasty.
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