The essay topic I have selected is on Chinese Tomb Art. I would like to address the various types of Chinese Tomb Art and compare an armored and an unarmored terracotta figure from the Qin dynasty, applying both visual and contextual analysis to my findings.
The article I will start with is a thought invoking article by Martin Joseph’s book:
- Powers, Martin J., and Katherine R. Tsiang. 2016. A Companion To Chinese Art. Blackwell Publishing.
The book discusses on the rich belief of the afterlife among traditional Chinese that dates back to the Shang dynasty and how it employs different forms of funerary art used to reaffirm important cultural values such as filial piety.
The author also addresses a question for thought, whether funerary art can be considered “fine art” as there were no evidences of people regarding the tomb as a form of art in early China although tomb décor or individual artifacts might be admired for their artistry. He provides further evidence that mundane objects such as ceramics were not created as fine art but is now considered a work of collectible art during modern times.
These objects are mentioned by the author to serve their main purpose of honoring people of high-rank or to serve in ceremonial settings. Moving to the next level, author also questions whether “tomb art” actually does exists.
A possible outline for my essay is the following (sections and section headings subject to change):
- Address how the Chinese have a strong belief in the afterlife and a spirit path to it that needed facilitating, hence the importance of tomb art.
- What is tomb art and the various types of it (Chamber paintings, tomb pottery, ritual bronzes and guardian sculptures)
- State that the focus of my essay on tomb art is on Terracotta figures and narrowed down to comparing and the similarities and differences between an armored infantryman and an unarmored infantryman.
- State my claim of how the figures are carefully crafted individually and high level of intricate detail that allows it to be called a piece of fine art
- Compares the similarity of Terracotta figures in terms of material, facial features and expression
- Followed by comparing the differences in terms of pit placement, posture and the usage of weapons
- Examines the unarmored Terracotta figure in terms of material, facial features, expression, pit placement, posture and the usage of weapons and provide contextual knowledge
- Followed by examining the armored Terracotta figure in the same aspects as the previous one, also providing contextual referencing
- How these details are crafted on the terracotta figures went through several levels of thought process and planning which translate it into a piece of fine art
- The fact that it is an ‘eigth-wonder of the world’ tells a lot about the workmanship and the number of craftsmen that crafted this work of art