Art Histories II – Research Paper

Essay Questions:

  1. What is Chinese tomb art? Compare two bronzes from the Shang dynasty. OR compare two terracotta figures from the Qin dynasty.


  • Ancient China believed that there is life after death and when someone important dies, such as an emperor, their daily comfort and objects were buried along with them
  • In the earlier time, it is not uncommon for people to be killed and buried with their master but clay replicas were used instead
  • Chinese tomb art in this case are the materials buried in the tomb along with the deceased
  • They include bronzes used in religious rituals and tomb figures – the most significant is the Qin Dynasty Terracotta Army
    • “During the Shang and Zhou dynasties, people were buried alive in tombs with the deceased as sacrifices. Slaves were buried with their owners, as clearly demonstrated by archeological digs of Shang Dynasty institutions. As society evolved, this practice was gradually replaced by burying clay sculptures, woodcarvings or bronze figures. Burying tomb figures became popular during the Qin Dynasty and reached a peak with the terracotta figures.” (Chinese Sculpture, pg 38-39)

Main Point

  • The terracotta warrior figures represent a kind of “Chinese Realism
  • “manner portrayal” – exaggerated body parts and expression to look more fierce


  • The two different figures I want to compare is the General and Heavy Infantry – Visual analysis
  • I will talk about their similarities and differences
  • I will then discuss how they are sculpted in a particular way to represent “Chinese Realism


Debaine-Francfort, Corinne. 1999. The Search for Ancient China. Translated by Paul G. Bahn. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd. Accessed February 22, 2016.

Jessica Rawson, et al. n.d. China. Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed February 22, 2016.

Portal, Jane. 2007. Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. Accessed February 22, 2016.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. 1992-2016. Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. Accessed February 22, 2016.

Wenbing, Zhao. 2012. Chinese Scupture. Translated by Wang Wenliang, Kang Jian, Han Huizhi and Xiao Ying. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Accessed February 22, 2016.

Wenli, Zhang. 1996. The Qin Terracotta Army: Treasures of Lintong. London: Scala Books & Cultural Relics Publishing House. Accessed February 22, 2016.

1 comment

  1. Introduction is nice. but we need some dates to make it more concrete. Yes, this is also a good place to cite some textual sources. But that quote is a little long. Paraphrase it and provide a footnote.

    Your main point is good, but is it your idea? Is Chinese realism your term?
    How do you plan to show this? What makes them real?

    What is manner portrayal?

    How do you plan to organise your paragraphs? Please provide specific plans for your two body paragraphs.

    I appreciate that you have shared your bibliography with me. So, have you nailed down all three types of sources? All seem to be on-line accept for the first one. Which one is the text book? Which one is the article?

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