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Article

Anyang  

Robert W. Bagley

[An-yang]

Chinese city in Henan Province, near the site of the last capital of the Shang dynasty or Yin dynasty, occupied c.1300– c. 1050 bc. The site is sometimes called Yinxu, ‘Waste of Yin’, an ancient name for the abandoned city.

At least as early as the Northern Song period (960–1127) Anyang was known to antiquarians as a source of ancient bronze ritual vessels. At the beginning of the 20th century archaeologists were led there by the realization that animal bones and turtle shells found by local farmers were carved with inscriptions in a form of Chinese script more archaic than any previously known (for a discussion of the oracle-bone texts see China, People’s Republic of, §IV, 2, (i)). The bones had been used in divination rituals; their inscriptions, which showed the divinations to have been performed on behalf of the last nine Shang kings, secured the identification of the Anyang site. According to historical texts of the last few centuries ...

Article

Balkh  

City in northern Afghanistan, believed to be the site of Bactra, capital of ancient Bactria, and a major city in the province of Khurasan during the Islamic period. Located on a fertile plain, Balkh commanded trade routes between India, China, Turkestan and Iran. It was already a wealthy city under the Achaemenid dynasty (538–331 bc) and a centre of Zoroastrianism. Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, it became important under the Bactrian monarchies (323–87 bc) and then under the Kushana and Hephthalites, and it was a Buddhist centre. The most substantial remains from the early periods are the mud ramparts, which stand more than 20 m at several places. The circular plan around the citadel (modern Bala-Hisar) may date back as far as the Achaemenid period. The only other monuments to survive from the pre-Islamic period are four Buddhist stupas. That excavated at Tepe Rustam in the south of the city is the most monumental found north of the Hindu Kush (platform 54 m on a side; cylindrical dome 47 m in diameter; total height ...

Article

Baoji  

Li Liu

[Pao-chi]

Chinese city in Shaanxi Province, where several important sites from the Neolithic to Eastern Zhou periods (c. 6500–256 bc) have been discovered. A Neolithic village site was excavated in 1958–60 and 1977–8 at Beishouling. The cultural deposits found belong to the Laoguantai culture and the Yangshao culture, dated by radiocarbon analysis to c. 5000–c. 2500 bc. The ceramics are reddish in colour, and some vessels are painted. Major pottery types include the pointed-bottom vase, flat-bottom jar, round-bottom bowl and suantou hu (garlic-head) vessel (for illustration of shapes see China, fig.). The most elaborate ones are a boat-shaped vessel with a net design and a garlic-shaped vessel with a design of a bird pecking at a fish.

At Rujiazhuang, Zhuyuangou and Zhifangtou, three cemeteries of the Western Zhou period (c. 1050–771 bc) were excavated in 1974–81. They belonged to the state of Yu, a Western Zhou feudal state not recorded in ancient texts. The excavations uncovered 27 tombs, two sacrificial pits containing chariots and horses, and four pits containing only horses. More than 2600 grave goods, including bronze, jade, stone, bone, shell and ceramic objects, were unearthed. The findings provide evidence of a culture combining a unique local style with influences from the Western Zhou, the Siwa culture in Gansu Province and the Shu culture in Sichuan Province. Many stone and jade ornaments and bronze vessels are decorated with animal motifs, and bronze figurines depict details of dress and hairstyles suggesting that the Yu people were culturally closely related to the Di and Qiang peoples in north-western and south-western areas....

Article

Houma  

Robert W. Bagley

[Hou-ma]

City in southern Shanxi Province, China. The Eastern Zhou (771–256 bc) state of Jin had its capital at Houma (anc. Xintian) from 585 bc until the dissolution of the state in 453 bc. Archaeological work has been carried out at the site since the 1950s, and a number of major finds have been reported.

Of great historical interest are deposits of jade tablets that bear brush-written inscriptions recording oaths of allegiance pledged by vassals to their lords (see China, People’s Republic of §IX 1.). More pertinent to art history is the excavation of a vast foundry site that yielded some 30,000 fragments of clay moulds, models, and other foundry debris. This debris is important partly because it throws light on casting processes and partly because it exactly documents the objects and designs that the foundry produced. The Houma foundry used a highly sophisticated pattern-block mouldmaking technique (...

Article

Henrik H. Sørensen

[Chia-yü-kuan]

Town near Jiuquan in western Gansu Province, China, which controlled passage through the Great Wall from the Qin period (221–206 bc) to the late part of the Ming (1368–1644). Located at the western end of the Great Wall in the foothills of the Jiayu Mountains, it was an important strategic point, controlling entry to the Hexi corridor, and a vital communication centre on the Silk Route. As such, it ranks with Yangguan and Yumenguan in Dunhuang as one of the main military posts on the frontier with Central Asia. Under the emperor Wudi (reg 141–87 bc) of the Western Han dynasty (206 bcad 9), the Great Wall was extended almost 500 km west of Jiayuguan as a measure against the marauding Xiongnu nomads. The town developed into a strong military colony, with a large Chinese population cultivating the surrounding countryside. Numerous graves and tombs dating to the Han (...

Article

Kucha  

M. Yaldiz

[Kuča]

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....

Article

Niya  

M. Yaldiz

[Chin. Minfeng]

Town and site in south-eastern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. During his first and second expeditions in 1900–01 and 1906–8 Aurel Stein uncovered the ruins of 41 buildings at Niya. The majority, often with only the wooden posts left standing, were houses with adjoining animal stalls. A hall with vestigial, barely recognizable wall paintings at the complex N. III, a temple (N. V) and a stupa were the most important religious buildings. The ruins forming N. V consisted of two buildings, which Stein designated N. XV and N. XVI. The north wall of N. XV was completely worn away, but some of the supporting beams were still lying in situ so that the room measurements could be estimated. Beneath the dirt, debris and straw from the roof, layer upon layer of epigraphic material lay hidden; over 250 documents on wood and leather were salvaged, the earliest dating from the 3rd century ...

Article

Li Liu

[Ch’ien hsien]

Chinese county and town in Shaanxi Province. The Qianling mausoleum, joint burial site of the Tang emperor Gaozong (reg ad 649–83) and his empress Wu Zetian (reg de facto 684–705), is located north of Qian xian county town. Surrounded by an outer and an inner city, the mausoleum was made by tunnelling into the interior rock of Mt Liang. Halfway up the mountain a tunnel, c. 61 m long and 4 m wide, was dug to lead towards the gate of the chamber; it runs north–south to a depth of 19.5 m and is filled with thousands of stone slabs. The mausoleum has not been excavated.

Stone sculptures and stelae stand on either side of a ‘spirit road’ leading to the mausoleum: ornamental pillars (huabiao), mythological winged animals (see fig.), ostriches, horses with grooms, and other human figures, including 61 foreign chiefs (fanqiu...

Article

Ann Paludan

[formerly Yidu ]

Chinese city in Shandong Province. It was the political, cultural and economic centre of the Qingzhou–Jinan region from the 2nd century bc to the 14th century ad. The area is famous for its Han dynasty tomb sculpture and reliefs. The dramatic discovery in October 1996 of a pit containing some 400 stone Buddhist carvings on the site of the former Longxing temple, Qingzhou, and other post-1970 Buddhist finds at Zhucheng city, Longhua temple, Boxing County, Xingguo temple, Qingzhou and Guangrao, Gaoqing and Wudi further north, show that its sculptural tradition was also flourishing in the Northern–Southern dynasties period. An estimated 800 stone and bronze Northern dynasties artefacts reveal the existence of a hitherto unrecognized, vigorous, independent Qingzhou sculptural tradition during the 6th century blending Northern and Southern dynasty, local and foreign elements.

The Longxing collection, discovered carefully packed in an earthen pit with tamped floor and clean cut sides, provides a definitive chronological record of sculptural development between ...

Article

Robert W. Bagley

[San-hsing-tui]

Village in Sichuan Province, China, near Chengdu. The remains of a city dating from the Shang period (c. 1600– c. 1050 bc) were found there. Jades of archaic type were unearthed in Guanghan County as early as the 1920s, but it was only in the 1980s that archaeologists established the presence there of a major city site by showing that a number of mounds near the modern village of Sanxingdui are, in fact, remnants of a rammed-earth city wall that once enclosed an area of more than 100 ha In 1986 the discovery just outside the city wall of two pits filled with extraordinary artefacts (most Chengdu, Sichuan Prov. Mus.) attracted worldwide attention.

On the evidence of potsherds found within it, the city wall is believed to have been constructed before the Anyang phase (before c. 1300 bc). The two pits are somewhat later; they seem to represent large-scale sacrificial offerings made on two different occasions, a few decades apart, in the ...

Article

Shilou  

Robert W. Bagley

[Shih-lou]

Chinese city in Shanxi Province, on the southward bend of the Yellow River. Chance finds of bronze vessels and other artefacts from the Anyang period (c. 1300– c. 1050 bc; see Shang dynasty) have been made repeatedly in and near Shilou since the mid-1950s. The artefacts, apparently grave furnishings, often differ in design and type from artefacts found at Anyang.

The date of the Shilou graves is established by the bronze ritual vessels found in them; although often eccentric in style, the vessels are of recognizable Anyang types. Gold earrings and other gold ornaments found at Shilou are unknown at Anyang, however, and they suggest that the occupants of these graves were not Shang people (for further discussion of gold ornaments and jewellery see China, People’s Republic of §XIV 16.). The bronze repertory includes additional distinctive items: bow-shaped ornaments (occasionally imitated at Anyang and at a later date in Siberia) and a variety of spoons, spatulas, and wands. Three bronze weapon types attest Inner Asian connections: daggers, knives with blade and handle cast in one piece, and battle-axes with tubular sockets; several examples have animal-head pommels. These weapons are found regularly in graves at Shilou and at other sites in the Northern Zone but only rarely at Anyang, where they are clearly the result of foreign influence....

Article

Bent Nielsen

[T’ang-shan]

Administrative city and district (diqu) in Hebei Province, China. Outside the city of Tangshan a site dating from the Warring States period (403–221 bc) of the Zhou dynasty was excavated in 1950–52. Urn and pit burials were discovered, and near by, stone coffin burials. The pit burials contained a variety of pottery and bronze artefacts, including bronze tools (awls and adzes), weapons such as swords and arrow-heads, coins and various types of vessel. Decorative elements are those characteristic of the period: naturalistic and stylized animals such as dragons (see China, People’s Republic of §VII 3., (ii), (a)), and various geometric designs such as the small square spirals known as leiwen or ‘thunder pattern’. One hu bronze vessel with a lid (h. 352 mm; Beijing, Hist. Mus.) has decoration divided into two bands of six panels by the representation of a double-rope sling. The 12 panels depict a hunting scene in a stylized yet unusually realistic manner (though pictorial hunting scenes as such are characteristic of the period), bearing a superficial resemblance to the cave paintings of Lascaux in southern France. Another unusual vessel is a ...

Article

Turfan  

Mary S. Lawton

[Turpan]

Oasis city and surrounding region in eastern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. The major sites include Khocho, Yarkhoto, Bezeklik and Astana. Turfan’s significance lay in its location on the northern branch of the Silk Route. Its art assimilated concepts from the Indian, Iranian and Chinese cultural traditions and religions disseminated along the Silk Route. Mahayana Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, Manichaeism and Tantric Buddhism influenced the local style (see also Central Asia §II 1., (v)). As political control of the region alternated between China and the nomadic peoples of Central Asia it also influenced artistic production. The best examples of the resulting synthesis are to be found in the wall paintings and painted clay sculptures of the religious complexes and tombs. The spread of Islam in the area effectively ended further development of all art forms except architecture. Natural destruction together with the removal of frescoes and artefacts in the name of archaeological research has left almost nothing to be studied ...

Article

[anc. Ānandapura]

Town and temple site in northern Gujarat, India. While the date of its foundation is uncertain, references in the ancient religious text known as the Skanda purā ṇa and the writings of the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang (7th century ad) indicate the considerable importance the town enjoyed by this date as a centre of Hindu and Jaina learning. Two elaborately carved monumental arched gateways (tora ṇas) dating to the 11th century and located just outside the northern walls are the major artistic remains. In form, sculptural style and trabeate construction technique they resemble the gateways at Modhera and Sidhpur. Nothing remains of the temple to which they were originally attached. Several stone-lined, stepped tanks of the 11th and 12th centuries also survive, the largest being the Sarmishta Tank; these were embellished with figurative relief sculptures. A stone inscription embedded in one of Vadnagar’s six gates commemorates the building of the town’s walls and dates to ...

Article

Wuwei  

[Wu-wei ; Liangzhou]

Chinese town in central Gansu Province, historically a major communications centre and military town on the Silk Route. From the Western Han period (206 bcad 9), Wuwei was an important frontier post guarding a strategic part of the Great Wall in the Hexi Corridor. A large garrison was stationed at the town, manning several outlying forts and watch-towers along the Silk Route. Many Han (206 bcad 220) documents written on bamboo slips have been found in several of the watchtowers around Wuwei. An important Han tomb (Leitai, nr Wumei) of ad 186–219 contained bronze figurines and models of chariots and horses, including a ‘flying horse’ (Lanzhou, Gansu Prov. Mus.; see China, People’s Republic of §VII 3., (vi), (b) ).

During the Northern and Southern Dynasties period ( ad 310–589) Wuwei was the capital of several lesser states, including the Former Liang (313–76...

Article

Xi’an  

Mary S. Lawton

[Sian, Hsi’an ; formerly Chang’an, Ch’ang-an]

Capital of Shaanxi Province, China, and most significant as the nucleus of an archeologically rich area, the artefacts of which document the remarkable continuity of Chinese civilization.

Xi’an is located in the fertile loess valley of the Wei River, which was settled as early as Paleolithic times (before c. 6500 bc). For over 1000 years the capital of the empire was intermittently located there (see fig. ). From the 2nd century ad to the 14th it marked the eastern terminus of the Silk Route and hence was especially open to new ideas introduced from Central Asia. The city was most important during the Tang period ( ad 618–907; see fig. (e)), when its cosmopolitan and tolerant cultural life reflected its significance as a trading centre. With the fall of the Tang, the city was largely destroyed; although it was rebuilt in the 14th century (f), it never regained its cultural primacy....

Article

Xinyang  

Alain Thote

[Hsin-yang]

City and district in southern Henan Province, China. Two large tombs, generally considered to date from the 4th century bc, were found at Changtaiguan, north of the city of Xinyang. Tomb 1 probably belonged to a dignitary of the southern state of Chu .

The two tombs, like those at Changsha in Hunan Province and at Shou xian in Anhui Province, display many features typical of Chu culture and are a testament to its widespread influence. They have wooden, compartmentalized ‘outer coffins’, like the tombs found in the Jiangling region. Although pillaged before they were discovered in 1956, the tombs contained a sizeable number of personal effects in a reasonably well-preserved state, those in Tomb 1 of a higher quality than those in Tomb 2. Notable are a peal of 13 bronze bells; some zither fragments painted with hybrid animals, dragons, hunters with bows and arrows, and musicians; and two wooden lacquered sculptures of guardian animals (h. 1.52 and 1.28 m) with protruding eyes, tongues hanging down on to their chests and heads crowned with antlers. The coffins were lacquered, as were many other items, such as earthenware and wooden objects (more than 200 pieces), the backs of bronze mirrors and carved figures. In addition to the commonly used black and vermilion, gold, silver and other colours were employed for some motifs. A large drum stand, typical of Chu design, is in the form of two birds with long necks, standing back-to-back and perched over two crouching tigers (1.62×1.40 m). Next to a group of bamboo strips, some of which recorded the personal effects in Tomb 1, was a collection of utensils used to shape the bamboo prior to writing....

Article

Mary S. Lawton

[Cheng-chou ; Chengchow]

Capital of Henan Province, China. Archaeological excavations since 1950 in the drainage basin of the south bank of the Yellow River have produced evidence that this was a centre of Shang culture (c. 1600–1050 bc ).

The area has been identified by some archaeologists with the second Shang capital, Ao, which according to the ancient annals (e.g. Liu Xin’s San Tong li pu (a calendar) and the Zhushu jinian (Bamboo Annals)) was founded by the Shang ruler Zhongding (reg c. 1568– c.1558 bc), but on the basis of archaeological evidence is generally dated to the 15th century bc. Around 1300 bc it seems the capital was transferred to Yin, near modern Anyang (see 1968 exh. cat.). Findings support the hypothesis that for some time Zhengzhou and Anyang may have been occupied contemporaneously. During the Zhou period (c. 1050–256 bc ) the area was first called Guyang and then known as Dantu. While serving as the capital of the state of Wu during the Three Kingdoms period (...