1-20 of 46 results  for:

  • East Asian Art x
  • 300 BCE–CE 500 x
Clear all



Henrik H. Sørensen

Site of an ancient cemetery for Khocho, 40 km south-east of Turfan in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. The burial ground, which contains over 400 tombs, covers a large area and is divided into three sections: a north-western group with the earliest graves, a north-eastern group consisting of later, commoners’ graves, and a later northern group intended for the nobility. A wooden document found at the site indicates that it was in use before ad 273. From other unearthed written evidence it is thought that Astana ceased to be used in the late 8th century. It appears that most of those buried here were Chinese.

Many tombs contained a couple, or in some cases a man and several wives. A few single burials have also been found. In several cases the exact dating of a tomb is possible owing to memorial inscriptions on clay slates placed next to the bodies. The early tombs were made by digging a vertical entry shaft into the ground with chambers on the sides, while the later tombs have an access ramp sloping down to the burial chamber, sometimes with side rooms and antechambers. The tombs made for the nobility are usually decorated with wall paintings depicting such motifs as birds and flowers, stylized landscapes and figures; many are in the style of the early Tang period (...



Mohammad Gharipour

Bazaar, which is rooted in Middle Persian wāzār and Armenian vačaṟ, has acquired three different meanings: the market as a whole, a market day, and the marketplace. The bazaar as a place is an assemblage of workshops and stores where various goods and services are offered.

Primitive forms of shops and trade centres existed in early civilizations in the Near East, such as Sialk, Tepe in Kashan, Çatal Hüyük, Jerico, and Susa. After the 4th millennium BC, the population grew and villages gradually joined together to shape new cities, resulting in trade even with the remote areas as well as the acceleration of the population in towns. The advancement of trade and accumulation of wealth necessitated the creation of trade centres. Trade, and consequently marketplaces, worked as the main driving force in connecting separate civilizations, while fostering a division of labour, the diffusion of technological innovations, methods of intercultural communication, political and economic management, and techniques of farming and industrial production....


Jenny F. So

Functional personal accessory used in China from the Eastern Zhou period (771–256 bc) to the 2nd century ad, after which elaborate forms evolved with a purely symbolic and decorative purpose. The typical Chinese belthook (also sometimes garment hooks), which was worn by both men and women, was made of bronze in a club shape, with a button on the underside of the broad end and a small hook turned to the top at the other (see Zhengzhou Erligang, pl. 40:9). It also occurs in a wide variety of sculptural shapes, including shield-form and rectangular, and may on rare occasions be made of gold, silver, iron, jade or bone. Most belthooks between 100 mm and 200 mm long were worn horizontally to secure a belt, with the button inserted into one end of the belt and the hook latched on to the other end. A bronze kneeling figure excavated from a site of the Warring States period (...


Henrik H. Sørensen


County in Henan Province, China, east of the city of Luoyang. The presence of Mt Song (also called Mt Xiaoshi, Mt Songyue or Mt Songgao) means that the county is primarily known as a centre of Buddhism. Mt Song was a Buddhist sanctuary as early as the Three Kingdoms period (ad 220–80). When Emperor Xiaowendi (reg ad 471–99) of the Northern Wei (386–534) moved the dynastic capital from Datong in north-western Shanxi Province to Luoyang, the mountain was selected as an ideal place to establish Buddhist temples.

The Fawang Temple (Fawang si) is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary on Mt Song, supposedly dating to ad 234. It features a large, square, brick pagoda of the mid-8th century ad, 15 storeys and 40 m high, built in the same style as the Xiaoyan ta (Small Wild Goose Pagoda) in Xi’an. Other buildings in the Fawang Temple, including the Precious Hall of the Great Hero (the main hall), the Hall of the Four Heavenly Kings and the Ksitigarbha Hall, date from the Qing period (...



Ho Chuimei

Ancient kingdom, listed by early chroniclers as one of several small tribal states in south-west China; it occupied the area around Lake Dian and Lake Er, south-west of modern Kunming in Yunnan Province. In 109 bc the Han (206 bcad 220) conquered Dian, reducing it to a vassal state of the empire. It is chiefly known for its extraordinary bronzes, many of them quite unlike the contemporary bronze-castings of the Zhou (c. 1050–256 bc) and Han periods (see China, People’s Republic of, §VII, 3, (iii)) from other parts of China. Characteristic Dian forms include drums, wind musical instruments, cowrie containers and daggers. These are often decorated with elaborate animal and human motifs, either in relief or free-standing, modelled with great realism and skill.

Based on archaeological evidence, bronzes of Dian style did not appear before the 7th century bc, after which they evolved rapidly, reaching a zenith shortly before the Han conquest. Motifs and forms such as spearheads and axes cast with simple geometric designs current in other parts of China were present in the Dian bronze-casters’ repertory from the beginning but played only a minor role until just before the Han conquest, when Chinese influence became very strong. The art of Dian as a recognizable cultural entity disappeared completely by the 1st century ...


Dorothy C. Wang


Site of Buddhist cave sanctuaries located 25 km south-east of the county town of Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China. In the wider definition Dunhuang also includes the Yulin caves at Anxi and the Xi qianfo dong (Western Cave of the Thousand Buddhas). From the 4th century to the 14th, Buddhist cave sanctuaries were continuously carved out in four or five tiers on the cliff face of an alluvial hill that faces east over the Dang River. At its height as a Buddhist complex in the 8th century ad, the complex is believed to have comprised more than 1000 caves. A total of 492 caves with wall paintings and sculptures survive, the earliest of which date to the early 5th century ad. A hoard of old and rare manuscripts was also found at Dunhuang, including the world’s oldest complete printed book (see China, People’s Republic of, §XIV, 3).

Dunhuang was first established as a garrison town in the ...


Molly Siuping Ho

[Kung hsien]

Site in Henan Province, China, east of the city of Luoyang. A complex of five Buddhist caves, dating from the Northern Wei period (ad 386–534), is located on the south side of Mt Mang on the northern bank of the Yiluo River. The ground level along the river is higher than the ground level inside the caves by over a metre because of dirt accumulated from flooding. The construction of the caves, sponsored by the Northern Wei imperial family, took place between c. ad 505 and 526, starting with Cave 1. In addition, many small niches and inscriptions sponsored by other devotees were carved later on the outside of the caves and bear dates ranging from ad 531 to 1735.

Cave 1, on the far west, measures 6×6 m; caves 3, 4 and 5 are successively smaller in size, and Cave 2 is unfinished. All are square in layout and, except for Cave 5, have internal central pillars. The once coherent sculpted façade between caves 1 and 2 is now in a fragmentary state. Inside the caves, all surfaces are fully sculpted. The main Buddhist images occur in configurations of three or five, in niches occupying the centre portions of the west, north and east walls and the central pillars. The ceilings of caves 1, 3 and 4 are divided into squares by crossbeams, and each square is decorated with an ...


Mary S. Lawton

Wall stretching across northern China from Hebei Province in the north-east through Shanxi, Shaanxi and Ningxia provinces to Gansu Province in the west (see fig.). Running through inhospitable mountains and deserts, with numerous offshoots and parallel structures, it is one of the most spectacular feats of engineering in the history of the world. Although it was built primarily as a defence against the Central Asian nomads, it also provided a relatively efficient thoroughfare for the movement of troops, horses and supplies across difficult terrain. According to the traditional Chinese view, the wall also created a spiritual and physical barrier between the ‘superior’ and sedentary culture of China and the ‘inferior’ culture of its nomadic neighbours.

Defensive walls, such as that measuring 7 km at Zhengzhou, Henan, were a feature of Chinese cities from at least the Shang period (c. 1600–c. 1050 bc). Such building skills were extended to much grander projects; construction of the ...



E. Errington

[Haḍḍa; Hilo]

Site of numerous Buddhist monasteries, 8 km south-west of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. It flourished from the 1st century bc to the 8th century ad. The ancient site, known as Hilo to Chinese pilgrims of the 5th–8th century, is partially covered by a modern village. The earliest archaeological reports were compiled by Claude-Auguste Court (1827), Charles Masson (1834) and William Simpson (1878–9). Masson excavated 14 stupas, primarily at Gundi Kabul (also known as Tepe Kabul and Tepe Safed). He also uncovered the stupa at Tepe Kalan (also known as Tapa-é-Top-é-Kalan, Tope Kelan and Bordji-i Kafariha). A French delegation excavated most of the remaining ruins, including Tepe Kafariha and Bagh Gai, between 1926 and 1928. In 1965 a Japanese mission investigated Lalma, 3 km south-west of Hadda. Tepe Shotor (also known as Tapa-é-Shotor) and Tepe Kalan were excavated by the Afghan Institute of Archaeology between 1965 and ...


Carol Michaelson

Chinese dynasty dating to 206 bcad 220. Following the fall of the Qin dynasty in 221 bc, there was civil war until Liu Bang, posthumously known as Gaodi (reg 206–195 bc), became the first Han emperor. The Han was one of the golden ages in China’s cultural history, during which the basic framework of Chinese civilization was established.

The early period was one of consolidation of Qin laws and institutions in order to make China a unified and strong empire. The Western Han capital of Chang’an, a model of city planning with a grid street system, was sited south of the Wei River, a few kilometres north-west of modern Xi’an in Shaanxi Province (for illustration see Xi’an). The palace area occupied about two-thirds of the city area. Tomb models and textual evidence suggest the appearance of the various palaces built by Gaodi and later emperors. The imperial mausolea of ...


Carol Michaelson


Chinese dynasty that succeeded the Wei (ad 220–65) at the end of the Three Kingdoms period. The Western Jin had a capital at Luoyang, Henan Province, while the Eastern Jin capital was at Jiankang (modern Nanjing), Jiangsu Province.

Sima Yan, later known as the emperor Wudi (reg ad 265–89), deposed the last Wei ruler and in ad 280 defeated the state of Wu, unifying China briefly. During the Western Jin period a high-fired, green-glazed stoneware was produced in the south-east, imitating bronzes in colour and form. These ceramics, as well as bronze mirrors and grave models, were found in tombs. Intrigue and rebellion among powerful families prevented effective political centralization and provoked civil war. Drought and famine compounded the situation. In 311 a leader of the Xiongnu, a northern nomadic people, occupied first Luoyang, then Chang’an (modern Xi’an, Shaanxi Province), bringing to an end the Western Jin and dividing China into northern and southern dynasties until its reunification under the Sui dynasty (...



Bent Nielsen

[Chin-ts’un; Kin-ts’un]

Site in Henan Province, China, c. 115 km north-east of Luoyang. Eight tombs of the late Warring States period (403–221 bc) were discovered there. Lavishly furnished with objects of jade, glass, gold, silver, bronze and similar materials, the tombs were looted by local people from 1928 to 1931. Some 300 items (Toronto, Royal Ont. Mus.) were collected and described by Bishop William Charles White, a Canadian who was stationed at nearby Kaifeng at the time. A selection of about 200 objects from private and public collections all over the world was subsequently published (see Umehara). Several of the artefacts contained in the graves were inscribed and thus can be ascribed to specific centuries and feudal states of the Warring States period, leading to some disagreement as to the origin of the tombs: they are considered either to have been constructed by the House of Zhou and to contain presents and tributary objects from the feudal states, or to have been constructed by the state of Qin and to contain war booty....


Roderick Whitfield

[Ku K’ai-chih; zi Changkang, hao Hutou]

(b Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, ad 344; d 407).

Chinese painter. According to his official biography in the Jin shu (‘History of the Jin dynasty’; compiled Tang period (ad 618–907)), he held office at the Eastern Jin (ad 317–420) court at Jiangkang (Nanjing). The biography also records the opinion of his contemporary Xie An that he was an artist unexcelled in all time. In the history of Chinese painting his name remains a byword as one of the foremost figure painters, whose style was influential throughout the centuries. Some extremely well-known themes are associated with him, while literary records, particularly Zhang Yanyuan’s Lidai minghua ji (‘Record of famous painters of all periods’; ad 847), preserve Gu’s own writings as well as many references to his paintings. By the late Tang period, paintings by Gu Kaizhi were among those that Zhang Yanyuan’s grandfather had to surrender to the throne. Emperor Xianzong (reg 805–20) himself acknowledged them, professing to honour and treasure them. Zhang Yanyuan’s judgement on Gu Kaizhi’s brushwork is one of the cornerstones of Gu’s reputation:...



M. Yaldiz

[Karakhoja; Qočo; Chin. Gaochang]

Site 47 km south-east of Turfan in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. The most important complexes of monasteries in the Khocho area are Idikutshahri, Lenger, Senghim and Bezeklik. To the west of the town is the Chinese necropolis of Astana. The earliest evidence of settlement in the area is that a ruler of the Tujue dynasty, probably of Turkish origin, had an inscription placed on a temple of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, in Khocho in ad 445. Chinese, Sogdians and Tokharians also lived here between the 5th and 7th century. Khocho was occupied by forces of the Tang dynasty in 640. A brief Tibetan interregnum (c. 790–843) ended when the Uygurs established their kingdom here. From the evidence of their manuscripts and art objects, the Uygurs not only observed the Buddhist cult but also practised Nestorian Christianity and Manichaeism (see also Central Asia §II 1., (v)...



M. Yaldiz


Oasis site of an independent kingdom in the first centuries ad, on the southern branch of the Silk Route, comprising the capital, Yotkan, and surrounding residential and temple districts. Between 1900 and 1901 Aurel Stein carried out systematic archaeological surveys, the results of which confirm extensively the historic references in Chinese sources from the Han (206 bcad 220) to the Tang (ad 618–907) periods. However, the paucity of comparative dated material from sites in and around Khotan means that dating of artefacts can often only be hypothetical.

The most important sites, besides Dandan-oilik, are Rawak, Mayaklik-Tarishlak, Farhad-Beg Yailaki, Khadalik and Balawaste. Rawak contained the largest stupa on the southern Silk Route. The courtyard, surrounded by a thick (c. 1 m) wall built of sun-baked bricks, measured 50×45 m. Besides remains of wall paintings, there were innumerable stucco sculptures on the inner and outer wall (...


Bonnie Abiko

Period in Japanese archaeological and cultural chronology, c. ad 300–710, also variously referred to as the Tomb, Tumulus or Yamato period (see Japan, §I, 2). The term kofun (‘old mound’) specifically describes élite burials of the period, which have a characteristic keyhole (zenpōkōen; ‘square front, round back’) shape and are located primarily on the Yamato Plain near the Seto Inland Sea in the vicinity of modern Osaka. The huge Nintoku, tomb of Emperor (early 5th century ad) represents the climax of zenpōkōen tomb-building. During the Kofun period other tomb-mound shapes—square, circular or modified keyhole—also occur (see Japan, §III, 2, (ii)). Engineering programmes of such magnitude provide ample evidence that by this period the early Japanese possessed a political structure capable of mobilizing vast quantities of resources and manpower.

No written documents exist from the Kofun period, but the Kojiki (‘Record of ancient matters’; c....



M. Yaldiz


Oasis town and surrounding region in the western part of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. It was the most important oasis on the northern branch of the Silk Route from the point of view of the history of art, and one particularly subject to Western influence. Scholars first became aware of it at the beginning of the 20th century when Albert Grünwedel and Albert von Le Coq, and later Paul Pelliot, discovered many Buddhist temples near the village of Kucha. These were artistically furnished and decorated, attesting to great cultural activity at some earlier stage. The most important monastery complexes are Kizil, Kumtura, Duldur-aqur, Kizilgarga, Subashi, Kirish and Ačis Ilaek. Most of these are cave temples hewn from the sandstone mountain. The temples themselves were most probably built as early as the 1st century ad after it was decided at the third council held at Pataliputra (modern Patna) in eastern India that there should be extensive Buddhist missionary activity in countries outside India. Thus around the time of the birth of Christ, Indian monks were already reaching Afghanistan, Kashmir and Central Asia....


Dai Kui  

Weihe Chen

[Tai K’uei; zi Andao]

(b Qiaojinzhi [now Suxian], Anhui Province, c. ad 326; d c. 396).

Chinese sculptor, painter and philosopher. At an early age he studied with the famous Confucian scholar Fan Xuan, however, despite being influenced by Confucianism, he never took up an official position, instead he adopted a policy of withdrawing from society, admiring nature and advocating a simple way of life. He was a prolific author and developed the Confucian monastic tradition of xing and shen. A nine-volume work entitled The Collected Works of Dai Kui was published but is now lost.

As an artist he is said to have been good at figures, Buddhist portraits and landscapes. Gu Kaizhi remarked that his Picture of Seven Sages exceeded ancient paintings in likeness and charm. The critic Xie He approved his works as ‘creating a feeling of lasting appeal; stimulating interest through their ingenuity; excelling in their depiction of sages and setting models for professional painters’. His works Pictures of Nineteen Poems by Ruan Ji...



J. Marr

[Kuṣāṇa; Kushan]

Central Asian dynasty that ruled portions of Afghanistan and India during the first three centuries ad. As part of a tribal confederacy known to the Chinese as Yueh-chih, the Kushanas migrated from Gansu Province in the 2nd century bc west towards Transoxiana, dislodging the Shakas from Bactria (for the Chinese sources, see Basham, pp. 247–58, 346–90). Soon after the beginning of the 1st century ad, the Kushanas gained ascendancy over the other Yuezhi groups. The first king, Kujula Kadphises, and his successor Vima Kadphises, extended Kushana rule southwards to Kabul, Kashmir and the Indian subcontinent. Under the third king, Kanishka I, the Kushanas reached their greatest power. The kingdom extended as far as Varanasi in the east and Sanchi in the south, with capitals at Peshawar (anc. Purushapura) and Mathura. Kanishka’s date of accession is uncertain but most probably falls between ad 78 and 144. An era established in the first year of his reign provides a chronological framework for subsequent kings. From inscriptional evidence, the era appears to have remained in use for 141 years in Gandhara and the Punjab and 157 years in Mathura, the earliest example being a Buddha image, dated year 2, from Kausambi....



Carol Michaelson


County and city in Shaanxi Province, China, north-east of Xi’an, and site of the mausoleum complex of Qin Shi Huangdi (reg 221–210 bc), the ‘First Emperor of Qin’, who unified the Chinese territories in 221 bc. The mausoleum lies near modern Lintong city, east of the site of the Qin capital at Xianyang; the pits associated with it contain the world-renowned life-size terracotta army.

The unexcavated tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi is marked by an imposing stepped pyramidal mound (h. c. 45 m) surrounded by a square, gated inner wall and an oblong outer wall c. 6.4 km in circumference. The Han-period (206 bcad 220) historian Sima Qian (c. 145–c. 90 bc) wrote about the tomb in the Shiji (‘Records of the historian’), recording its construction and noting that it had already been pillaged and burnt in 206 bc by Xiang Yu, a rival of the first Han emperor. The Qin emperor began the mausoleum while he was still only king of the state of Qin and not yet emperor of China. The tomb thus contains a microcosm, an ideal model of the realm over which he had ruled and intended to continue to rule after his death. Some 700,000 people were reputedly conscripted to build it, and it was protected from robbers by devices such as ingenious automatic crossbows and rivers of mercury. The emperor’s childless wives and the workmen who built the mausoleum are supposedly buried with him....